Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dental Surgery - a.k.a Run Down the Hall Quickly!

We are in the school dental system and as such, this year it was Jono's turn to go to the dentist and get his teeth checked.

When Daniel hit this stage of life, I wasn't working, I was able to be there with him and I wanted to be with him (first child, I 'have' to be there). Last year Sarah got to go when she was in prep, I was working, and more relaxed about it.. so I let her go in school hours at the time she needed to go, and she was fine.

As I am now working, and Jono is older, and the other two survived going to the dentist, I decided to let him go for his check up with his teachers in school hours. Then the 'fun' started.

The first checkup he did brilliantly, he wore the protective glasses and the bib, he opened his mouth wide, he had no problems with the chair moving up and down, nor with the dentist's mirror, fingers and instruments being in his mouth. His teacher reported all this back to me very proud of him. I was too! Then we got asked to come back for a second appointment.

Second appointment we booked in after school, so I had all three kids with me. He did all as above and was totally comfortable with being checked out. The dental assistant explained which teeth needed work on them and why. He has 5 that need work, 3 with extremely minor cavities, and 2 with slightly deeper cavities, that all need covers or fillings of some sort to keep the 'baby teeth' in place long enough for his adult teeth to grow in with little complications.

Once I had all this explained I gave them the go ahead to do the smaller ones and 'see how they go'. The suction machine got turned on, and that was it.

'No thankyou, No thankyou'
, pushing it away, wriggling off the chair to get away. I decided very quickly that I wasn't going to make him sit through this as he was actually happy enough to have a checkup, it was just the noise that freaked him out. So we let him go, grabbing the glasses and bib off him and he ran out the door and discussed what the options were. Basically, he has to go to hospital and go under in order to have a few fillings.

Third appointment, with the dentist themselves at the school, same thing - happy to go, happy to be prodded. We talked about whether it was worthwhile to book him in again for the dental assistant to attempt one more time to do the work in the surgery rather than in the hospital. I said it's hardly worth it, and asked them to turn on the suction equipment. He ran for the door and they signed the paper work to get him into the hospital queue, with a 6-12 month wait... but first.. a visit to a specialist.

Appointment Number 4. Yes, I am starting to get tired of visiting dentists by now.

I am on the queue for the specialist appointment, and expect to get in after around a month. I got called two days later with an opening in two days... in the middle of the day. So I organise some time off work and decide 'bag it, I'll take the rest of the day off'. I wasn't sure how he would go and if I went back I'd only get 1 hour anyway, so wasn't too concerned about that.

We get to the appointment a little early, and they have cartoons in the waiting room, which he enjoyed. We got called into the room and once again he's happy about the chair, actually wants the glasses, and is ok with being checked out. They told us his teeth were beautifully clean and the issue is there are smaller fissures in his teeth that a toothbrush can't actually clean that are holding foodstuffs that are causing the decay. It's slow, and they aren't stressed about it, but it definitely needs work.

Then the room next door had a suction machine go in in there... up, out of the chair and running down the hall, but this time towards the noise! He wanted to see what was happening (with his hands over his ears for protection). So, we have him booked into hospital, and are on the waiting list, with one more specialist appointment in a few weeks time to discuss and practice brushing.

And what did we do for the rest of the afternoon? We went shopping, had lunch, got some clothes, bought Easter eggs, and picked up the other two. What a lovely afternoon! Perhaps I should book him in for some more appointments... Hmmmm ;)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Power of Underestimation

What, underestmation has a power now? Well, not in and of itself, but in the effects it has on those around it.

I have for a long time just 'done' the things that need to get done around the house... socks on the floor? I'll pick them up. School lunches need making? Puts one hand in the air, while grabbing lunchboxes with the other. Floor needs sweeping? I'll grab a broom, then the dustpan, and then the mop; and so on... oh, yes, you're a Mother too and you've also been there. So you know what I'm talking about.

Around a year-2 years ago we started giving the kids more chores, and just asking them to help out in general... except for Jono. I was happy if Jono was dressed for the day, had shoes on, had clean-ish fingernails, and got into the car happily for school. Because I was more concerned about just 'managing' to get to school and work on time, he got let off the hook a lot with chores and getting ready type stuff. What I didn't realise was how much of an impact this was having on all 3 kids.

It wasn't uncommon to hear Daniel say "how come Jono isn't/doesn't/wasn't". Daniel was seeing it as unfair that he had to do 'stuff' and help out, for a time we told him he was the oldest and just 'has' to do it... then Sarah got older and started helping too. Sarah wasn't too concerned as she has helpfulness built in to her genetic coding somewhere along the line, and for me I just wanted to 'get it done', especially when I went back to work and had to leave the house on time or risk my job, occasionally late - well that's ok, perpetually late... even if due to an Autistic boy having a meltdown, and my boss worked in the education system and involved in special needs children and having all the compassion in the world... it just didn't sit right with me, I had a time I needed to arrive and I wanted to make it happen... ahhhh commitments.

This week, the amazing happened.

Get ready.

You won't believe it.

Are you sitting down?

Jono packed the lunchboxes!!!

Are you amazed?

If you have a child with special needs I am sure you are dancing with me... I see you, doing twirls in your kitchen and a boogie step. If you don't then I guess you've stopped reading.

I couldn't believe it, he was around me in the kitchen, I had the lunchboxes on the bench getting them ready as I have every day for the past 'x' years, with absolutely no prompting, asking, or direction from anyone he wanders to the plastics cupboard and found for himself a water bottle, and a lid, filled it up, put the lid on tight and put it into his lunchbox. *close jaw now*

Then Sarah said, "get one for Sarah, Water bottle for Sarah", I told her don't worry, it's ok, he did a good job. Next thing, not only has he understood his sisters directions, but he knew what she wanted, and wanted to help out - back to the cupboard, grabs another bottle, and fixes it for her.

Then he stood beside me and waited. I had the next items ready to go into the lunchboxes, so I handed him 3 and he put one in each box. I get the next items and he does it again. He helped me get the rest of them ready.

Even as I write this I'm teary. He can understand things that need to happen to get ready for a day, he is capable of doing them himself, and it makes sense to him. He can help for other people and not just for himself, and he can do it without being asked. Wow!

So Daniel can not ask the 'why isn't Jono' anymore, and feel that he is being treated quite so unfairly with chores, Jono has just won himself a new job and Sarah, I'm sure will oversee Jono to make sure it's done right. All is well, all is very well!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Autism Awareness Day!

Today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day... were you aware? I wasn't either until I heard it on the news this morning.

This is a fairly new event, having been legislated by the United Nations on December 18th 2007, and as such is one of only three disease-specific United Nations Days . The aim of the day? to raise awareness of the condition to the people of the world as a whole and impart the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Read more here...

So why should you care? In all reality I don't expect you to. If it's not your child, your family member, your area of work or research or interest I don't expect this to have any impact on you whatsoever.

I was asked on Twitter This morning by @rentedmule 'What is my favourite charity?'
My reply? A tough question for me, of course there is Autism, but there are others and they are mainly for personal reasons. I have a friend whose daughter has Cystic Fibrosis, and that's a big one. I've donated blood and collected money for Red Cross society on more than one occasion, I have a soft spot for Starlight foundation as they grant children with fatal diseases one last wish and I have done Shave for a cure, for people with Leukemia. The article appears here. Do I care about people who are rebuilding after Black Saturday for example... yes, of course, and I have donated to the cause, but they aren't as big a priority to me, as there are so many other things that have personal impact in my life.

I think the idea of Autism Awareness is fantastic, and having it as a UN legislated day shows to me just how much of an impact this condition is having on our world. The other thing I love? They focus on things like early intervention, not on chelation therapies, foods or 'cures'. Simply raising awareness. Wether a 'cure' will ever be found, or its more a matter of people with this condition learning to be able to intergrate better with the rest of us is not something I focus on.

I know there is genetics involved, I know a lot of people say that the 18 months vaccines 'cause' Autism (though personally I'm convinced that is not true, though it may accelerate certain traits), I know there is still so much unknown about the condition. I also know, for me personally, in my life, I have a boy who is bright, loving, smart, has a great sense of humour and is an intergral part of our family, who is Autistic.