Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Update: Riley

When I left you, I had mentioned hormones. It is for good reason that I mention that word. It turned our entire family upside down. Riley has always been a challenging child - full of will and drama and spunk. She has always been a puzzle when it comes to discipline.

But then the hormones hit. And things went bad. Really, really bad. The drama went into hyperdrive and the spunk became defiance. I read book after book trying to figure out what was happening and how to fix it. Nothing worked. It came to the point where we asked the pediatrician for a referral because her behavior was nothing short of irrational. Unfortunately, our insurance doesn't cover a child psychologist or psychiatrist. I started reading a book titled A Praying Life, and there were some answers to be found there - I couldn't MAKE her change. I can't parent in my own strength, and since my strength was gone... that wasn't any surprise. I started praying, and I don't believe it's a coincidence that we are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm going to digress a bit here and talk about myself for a few moments. Going through this time has been very good for me as a parent and as a child of God. You see, I have never had confidence in my parenting. Austin was so different and we didn't understand why until he was 10. That's a long time to feel like a failure. Many ASD parents have a "typically-developing" child to whom they can look and say, "See? I parented that child, too, and he/she is fine. So I can't be THAT bad of a parent." I had Riley. Not your typical "typically-developing" child, you know? Didn't help my self-esteem one bit, and that just made it all worse. And then this hormone-stuff kicked in and BAM!!!! But when everything seemed to hit rock bottom (and I mean EVERYTHING - last fall was absolutely, positively the worst days I've ever experienced) and I finally started turning to God and listening to Him, He brought us all through it and out of it. I just had to learn the hard way that I cannot control anything. And I don't have to! I just have to trust.

OK, back to Ri....she has really come around the last month or so. She's still a pre-teen, at least for a couple more months, but she is reasonable again. It's so nice to have her back! :)

Riley is all about dancing. Literally. It's all she does and it's all she wants to do. She takes 2 ballet classes per week, plus a modern/contemporary class, plus her dance company rehearsals. Here are a couple of pics from her dance company's Christmas performance:

I'm so glad we homeschool so she can devote as many hours per week to dance as she does - and boy if I could afford it she would be in dance classes ALLLL the time! LOL It does affect her homeschooling mostly because she doesn't see any future that doesn't involve dance, and she sees no need for higher education if she wants to be a professional dancer. I tell her that I am going to give her a college preparatory education, even if she thinks she doesn't want to go to college. She is not thrilled with this, but this is one area where I won't budge.

One area where I did budge is on math curriculum. I love math, and that is no secret. And I have always used what I consider to be a challenging math curricula for Riley. She is capable of it, and I wanted to push her to extend herself. But the problem is that, at least right now, she HATES math. It was a huge battle each day. Finally, I gave in and switched her to Math U See for Pre-Algebra. I also gave up the notion that she HAS to be in Algebra 1 by 8th grade. Yes, that's what the advanced students in our area do - well, technically speaking the advanced kids to Alg 1 in 7th and regular college prep does it in 8th, but you know what I mean. SHE is not motivated to do it. And I can choose to battle her, or I can choose a perfectly acceptable option of MUS. She still might hit Algebra 1 in 8th grade, but it's not going to break my heart if she doesn't. My success as a parent and a homeschooler does not lie in that arena.

Around the house, Riley and Austin have become very close recently. Their relationship has always been precarious because she was developmentally closer to him than their 3 chronological years. It was hard for him to see her succeed socially where he struggled, and many times she took on the roles of the 'older' sibling without the benefits which surely felt unfair to her. But lately they have really come together and I have often found them talking to each other in Austin's room. It's VERY cool - I want them to be close!!

That's about all for Riley's update... I am really looking forward to watching Riley enter young-adulthood, now that she has become human again! ;) I know I haven't seen the last of the "terrible teens" ... but I'm trusting God to get us all through it in one piece!

1 comment:

The Glasers said...

Isn't it ironic that our non-autistic children are so challenging? I finally told my husband yesterday he has to pray the serenity prayer because our son is who he is. He has never been like us (driven, overachieving, highly focused) but he does have many wonderful qualities.