Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The beginning of the story...

I decided to begin this blog for many reasons. One was that I wasn't comfortable sharing all the details of this process with the entire world, two was that I didn't want our family blog to become completely dedicated to Eli. So many other things are going on that I want to be able to write about, and frankly Eli's story is so involved that I don't want to bog everyone down in details that they necessarily might not want to know. Eli needed his own space, and I needed my own place to vent, rant, cry and write freely without feeling like someone is judging me or being nosey for unkind reasons. So this is my spot to share Eli's story and our journey to finding out how to deal with this and help him. I am not alone, and that alone helps comfort me, but writing has always been very theraputic, so I wanted to write my way through this...

So, thank you for joining me on this blog and coming along with us on this emotional ride. I am so thankful for my faithful friends and your constant prayers.


When Eli was born, we knew that something was special about him. Not special in an "our first baby and he's perfect" special, but different special. In thebeginning we noticed that he was so fussy. At night he would be inconsolable, and at times I remember rocking him in my old blue recliner/rocker on base at Maxwell in Alabama, begging Eli to stop screaming. I would cry and ask him why he was screaming so much, but of course I never got an answer. He would only go to sleep if I rocked him, so that became our routine. All the ideas I had in my head before I had him were discarded pretty much immediately. I was so tired, that I gave in to the co-sleeping. It worked...Because I could rest. Around 7-9 months or so we had the discussion with our pediatrician about getting him to sleep in his own crib. I wanted to reclaim my bed and be able to roll over without the fear of waking him up or rolling over on him. We did all the methods...stand by the crib but don't touch him and then slowly back out of the room... ALL of the books methods we tried, and so we finally approached his doc. We were at the last resort method - cry it out method.

We tried it...we really and truly did, but Eli was a crazy baby. That child would SCREAM for hours...all night long. Most kids do "cry it out". They eventually tire and go to sleep...but not Eli. The more he screamed, the more he could scream. He did get tired...he was exhausted...but he would keep going. So back to the rocking we went, and I don't know how long we did that before he got to where he would go to sleep in his crib.

Other than that he was a pretty smiley baby during the days...he was a gorgeous baby, and his angelic face kept me from losing my mind during all the exhaustion we endured. But eventually he did learn to sleep on his own.

From the time that he was teeny tiny, we noticed that any friction of any sort caused him extreme stress. We were having problems at that time with my in-laws, and often times there were raised voices and arguments, no matter how much we tried to shield him from that, it was ineveitable that he was bound to be subjected to at least some of the tension. After any of these episodes or conversations with the in-laws, Eli would be upset for days...he would not sleep at night at all, he would truly affected him. Trying to talk to my in-laws about how sensitive he was was useless...they thought we were just berating them and overly sensitive first time parents. Little did any of us know the real reason for all of his sensitivity issues...

We noticed when he started crawling, he only crawled backward. We thought it was funny and cute, how he would back himself into a corner and cry then we would have to pick him up and put him back in the center of the room so he could crawl back to the wall again. Our pediatrician never mentioned that this was a sign of autism, and we never would have guessed it. To us, it was a cut quirk. He was crawling, so that was all that mattered...right?

The next thing to come was the walking which came right on time, but he was so delayed in his speech. We were told not to worry...he is the first child so it can take a while...all kids are different...blah blah blah. I tried so hard to reassure myself that he was just doing things on his own timetable, but that he was perfectly healthy. He was happy and playful and loving and he loved people. He never met a stranger back then. The most obvious thing to us at that time was his lack of simple, single words. He never really said a lot of the babble and baby words...he went basically from not speaking, to speaking in full sentences. He had never said milk or cup or eat or anything like that, but when he asked me "can I have milk Momma" the first time I about passed out... Once again we were told that each child learns on his own timetable, and at least he was talking. There was nothing to worry about...

At this time, Norman was deployed so I put Eli into a home daycare with my friend Amy - just once a week so that I could have a break. She was absolutely wonderful with him and loved him as if he were her own, and she and I became good friends. He really seemed to adjust well and play well with the kids. No sign of anything, and he was adorable as ever, happy as ever, and seemed normal as ever.

Being 2 came and went pretty uneventfully. He didn't have the "terrible 2's" and I was hoping that we'd just skipped that ugly little part of toddlerhood. But we didn't, and it appeared to come along as "horrible 3's". That is what we passed it off as, and dealt with it by doing what you are "supposed" to do. Be consistent, use time-outs, yes - we are a supporter of spanking so we did that, and losing privileges/toys, etc. NOTHING WORKED. NOTHING. If you took his favorite toy, he just detached from it and found a new favorite toy. Once when we had taken ALL his toys out of his room, he had so much fun counting cars that were driving by on the highway he could see from his window, he didn't even miss that he'd lost everything. Nothing phased him. So we were frustrated because we didn't know how on earth to get through to him. At this point, we just figured he took after me, and was STUBBORN as a mule. We were told to chalk it up to being a little boy, and told not to worry - he would outgrow it.

Now, I have to go back and address the food issue. Eli started out in life loving a variety of foods. Mexican food especially, but he would eat anything and everything. He seriously was NOT a picky eater, and we felt so extremely blessed. How lucky we were to have a good eater!!

Well, I would say that around the age of 3 and a half things started to change. And it happened so subtly, that I can't begin to list what happened when. It seemed the quirks he started to have were creeping in slowly that we didn't realize the entirety of it all. He started to be very possessive of things. And not even his things...EVERYONE ELSE'S things. He didn't understand that some things belonged to other people. Something so simple to me, yet he didn't get it. His tantrums were getting worse...and the bad part about it was that they occurred over the dumbest stuff. I was sure that I was doing something wrong. My parenting skills must be lacking. So we went to the pediatrician. The pediatrician said she felt he was probably ADHD because he was always running...jumping...We could NEVER get him to sit still for any length of time. Church was a nightmare. Going to a movie, which we had once done successfully, was by this time impossible, and at home from the time he woke up in the morning to the time he went to bed he spent running and leaping over furniture and being a little rocket ball of energy. But other than her "guess" of ADHD, she was of no help. Just a note to anyone - pediatricians AREN'T ABLE TO HELP YOU IN WAYS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL, DEVELOPMENTAL, NEUROLOGICAL disorders. Don't depend on your ped's doc to help you when it comes to these matters.

Chase was born when Eli was about 3 and a half and he was such a good big brother. He loved Chase and was so good with him. There was no jealousy, and he was always piling toys on Chase whenever he was in his little swing or other toys. He loved to hold him and was very gentle. It was such a relief. We had been so worried how he would react to a new baby, but it was such a wonderful time. The problems started between the boys around the time Chase started crawling/walking. He would inevitably crawl over and grab something of Eli's, and that started to really irritate Eli. This would then make him rip whatever toy Chase had out of his hands, which would make Chase scream, and it was a vicious cycle. We figured it was a stage, and that eventually Eli would get old enough to understand that Chase was just a baby and we dealt with it as best we could. Unfortunately it wasn't just a phase, and it only would get worse.

Eli started getting angry. Very angry. Throwing things at us, throwing over the top tantrums... hitting, name it, he was doing it. It wasn't normal boy wasn't right. We knew - as we had known for a while - something was definitely wrong. But what were we supposed to do? Where were we supposed to go? Everyone was telling us we were crazy and Eli was just fine.

When Eli was 4, in August of 2007, I enrolled him in a private Christian pre-school. It was an actual school with an accredited curriculum and school setting with a set routine and was really structured. I felt that it would be good for him, because he is a smart little thing. He was needing more educationally than what I could give him, and I felt that with all the energy he had, he would be more productive there.

His first teacher was okay...very quiet and I didn't get a lot of feedback from her. She would send notes home with him in his backpack, but when I would try to talk to her I couldn't get much out of her. I tried to ask questions, but never got anything decent back in return. She frustrated me...terribly. I felt upset that I was spending a lot of money on his school and I couldn't get his teacher to communicate with me. Thankfully something happened that made her leave in the middle of the first semester, so we got a new teacher. This teacher was WONDERFUL. She and I communicated daily, and we tried everything we could to help make school work for him. We had so many issues...

* he would never color his own papers, but would run around and color on everyone elses during art time - this resulted in visiting the principal's office

* he would never sit still during story time while they sat in a circle...he preferred to run around the kids in the circle and jump over them...this resulted in visiting the principal's office

* He would take the other kids toys, never share his own, and declared that everything that was red was his - which meant he could take it without asking... the result was visiting the principal

* In gym he hogged the ball...he never let anyone else have the basketball during the games...This resulted in other kids tackling him and fighting ensued, which landed them all in the office

*When girls wouldn't get off the swings on the playground, he wouldn't wait...he'd throw rocks and dirt at them until they fell off and then he would climb over them to get on the swing. Result - principal's office

* He didn't believe any rule applied to him. EVER. He was in charge and the bossiest little kid ever.

So you get the drift. The funny thing is that he NEVER believed he was at fault. Even when he was throwing dirt and rocks at innocent children...he always felt provoked. I never understood that. I never understood why things bothered him to the point of him exploding in such a mean way. How can you get a child to understand that something is wrong, if they feel justified? Getting him to see that the other children weren't at fault was like trying to teach a monkey to knit. It just wasn't happening. So after one semester we pulled him out of the school. It just wasn't working. He was too disruptive, and I was getting to the point where going to pick him up nearly gave me a panic attack. I stopped going to the classroom to get him, and just made my regular stop to the principal's office. He was always waiting there for me with a big grin on his face, so happy to see me. So oblivious as to why he was there, and always trying to explain how justified he was.

We were so blessed to live in military housing at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton during this time. My dear, dear friend Leah has 3 precious little boys - Ashton, Preston, and Trenton. She knew that Eli had issues, but she saw the sweet heart he had. The boys played well together, but if they didn't, Leah never made me feel bad or treated Eli horribly. If something happened at her house, she'd walk him over to my house and let me know what he had done very cheerfully in a "I thought you'd like to know that Eli spit on Trenton" sort of way with a grin on her face, and then she'd ask if playdate was still on for the next day or if we were still on for our walking date that night. She was so wonderful during that time. And I have to mention my other friend Reina here. She helped us SO much with the boys, and she and her family were just PRECIOUS to us. We were so blessed to have such loving, Christian friends who were there with us through everything. got really long, so I will stop here for tonight. More later...


Ally said...

I think it's great you started this blog and that you'll be so happy you did as you go through this journey and season of life.
It was good talking to you last night. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Baloney said...

I'm glad you started this.
What a blessing to have such great and understanding friends!
Keep your chin up. There will be struggles, but as you know - each success brings more than the average amount of JOY!

Liana said...

Stacey, you are so brave. It takes a special woman to be a great mom. I will continue praying for you and Norman and the boys, especially little Eli. If there is anything I can do please let me know.

Stacey said...

Thank you so much girls...It means so much to have such wonderful support...

Norman J. Cannon said...

Hey babe... you did a wonderful job of remembering all these things... wow... Things change so fast that I almost forget some of the previous month's issues. I had almost forgotten how distinct it was that Eli simply refused to be in trouble... Never got the fact that his toys were gone because he was in trouble. Now he knows he's in trouble but just doesn't care because... he's justified... I love you babe... you're such a great mom!

Charity Childs-Gevero said...

You all honesty...he sounds like a genius, to me. An above-average intellectual.

Wendy said...

Some of that stuff sounds so much like Scott. It is so good that you started this blog for Eli. I think having a seperate blog for him will help you to not lose sight of the other aspects of your life. I agree with Charity about Eli being above average intelligence.

The Gough Family said...

Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your lives. Eli is so precious, I'll forever have imprinted on my heart his smile as he was sitting on my kitchen counter asking if he could help cook dinner! (AW!) You are an amazing, wonderful mom, Stacey.He is blessed to have you and Norm helping him achieve the most he can. Always here for you...r.

Little Miss Muffins Cakes! said...

We're in the process of having my son tested for SPD. A lot of Eli's behaviors match our Max's. We're hoping soon to come up with something so we can learn how to work with him. God bless!

Mrs. G said...

What a hard time you had. I'm not very familiar with autism, but I wish you and your family the best. I hope your little boy is getting the help he needs. :)

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