Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Of Teenagers and Broken Bones and Autism

I try to limit what I share on my blog these days about Austin. It's not that I don't want to tell about his life or our homeschooling adventure, it's just that he has become very self-conscious about his struggles. I don't want to embarrass him in the interest of sharing our story, but I also started this blog as a way to put out there for others the real ups and downs that we experience. I wanted to be able to share our struggles, not only to show that we have struggles, but also to show that we muddle our way through them.

And this fall has been a struggle for Austin (and then, of course, us) of the sort of magnitude that I can barely begin to describe.

He is still recovering from the ankle injury in September. Who knew that a broken bone would take this long to heal? Last week he got his cast off, and a boot on. Not having any experience in the area of broken bones and casts, I assumed he would get the boot on and walk out of there under his own power. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. He can put weight on the leg for a few minutes at a time, but for the most part, he still has to walk around on crutches. The doctor didn't seem surprised by this (unlike me), and told us that while it was healed, the leg would be sore for a few weeks. We go back after Christmas for another appointment, at which point if Austin's not walking, I will be asking for a referral to physical therapy for him.

Yesterday he did join the girls and me at the pool. It wasn't easy to get him in and out of the water, but we managed. And he swam some laps with me. I made sure he took it easy, since he hasn't had any physical activity in nearly 2 months. I lost count while trying to do my own laps, but I think he did at least 5-6 laps of his own before he got out. We go to the pool just about every week, so he'll be able to continue the water exercise. I hope that will help to loosen up his foot and make it easier on him.

One bright note: he is able to play drums with the boot on.

To add to the complete wreck that has been fall at the BPA, Austin also came off his seizure medication. He started weaning off the meds in July, and took his last dose on the day of his ankle surgery. We had noticed some side effects of with each drop down in dosage (coinciding with the beginning of each new month). I did some research and learned that this medication is also used as a mood stabilizer for bipolar disorder. Then the complete weaning, coupled with the drastic change of a broken ankle/cast/losing his baseball season/losing the ability to self-regulate through pacing, has really been the hardest thing that we've had to experience in the last few years. I'm praying that, when all this is over, he will slowly return to normal. However, I have already decided that once he is able to walk and run again, if his mental state does not seem to be clearing out... we will need to seek outside intervention. I'm not sure what that will look like, but we'll start with the developmental pediatrician for recommendations. He simply can't spend the rest of his life feeling this way and having the sorts of thoughts he has been having.

We've been having lots of discussions about how many of this thoughts and feelings are those that most kids his age are having: being embarrassed about your family, being afraid you're going to say the wrong thing, feeling like you don't fit in. Austin has also been wondering about autism - and if he really has it or not. He said he doesn't feel like he fits in with other high functioning autistic/aspie kids any better than he fits in with NT kids. I can't imagine how that must feel... it reminds me of a quote from the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" movie: "Even among misfits, you're misfits."

Tomorrow is his half-birthday. We try to make those special by letting the half-birthday person choose fast food for lunch. Austin's still deciding - since I let him know that Longhorn Steakhouse is not my definition of fast food! ;) I pray for our family, and especially for Austin, that this second half of his fifteenth year of life will be filled with much more joy and peace than the first half has been.


Kellie said...

Thank you for sharing. With an eleven year old boy on the spectrum, I so appreciate reading about other's experiences who are a little further down this path than us. I'll be praying for you all -- it's been a tough few months for you all.

s'me said...

Hey, I've just started my Masters in SEBD (Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties) and there are several children that are known to have been diagnosed with ASC when they had more of an SEBD need, mainly because SEBD isn't as well known as ASC became known. If that makes sense. It might be worth looking into though, as there are lots of ideas to help him along the SEBD route.