How’s your mental health?

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  • How’s your mental health?

    So much has happen since I last blogged. However, I couldn’t find a single topic I wanted to discuss. On MLK day I wanted to write about facing fears and the importance of preventative screenings. But there was something blocking my inspiration to write. Also, at this time all three kids were sick. I was attempting to work with sick children at home. We got through it. Then I received an email from my oldest school about a confirmed case of hand, foot and mouth disease.

    The kids being sick and out of school made me consider writing about the importance of hand wishing, signs of hand, foot and mouth disease and other common viruses kids love to share. I started to write but again my thoughts were all over the place and the motivation just wasn’t there. In my mind every topic I considered wasn’t good enough. I started to get discouraged.

    Although I was having my own internal battle, I managed to keep up with our busy schedule, and added auditions for my kiddos to the agenda. As usual we were constantly on the move.

    Last Sunday after my daughter’s audition we had lunch with some friends. She read a text from here phone and said in disbelief “Kobe’s dead”. I didn’t and still don’t know how to process this news.

    As I learned the details of his daughter being on the flight, a family, a mother and all 9 persons it crushed me. I couldn’t cry, I could only feel a deep sadness. My chest had a dull pain ache.

    A couple days went by and I heard the now widowed father of three; tell the story of how he told his kids that their mother was deceased. He said they screamed and cried as he held them in his arms.That was it for me; I cried like a baby. When I stopped crying I felt as if I had released something. Not just from the Kobe tragedy, but also a release from tension built up over weeks.

    We are so use to being on the go and only slowing down when we have a physical illness. However, mental illness can be worse then any common cold. Even when we ignore or are unaware, mental unhealthiness will present itself. Often mental illness leads to a physical illness. Such as a headache or body ache.

    Or in my case lack of motivation to do something you typically enjoy and racing thoughts. Mental health symptoms are different for everyone.

    Changes in mood, changes in eating habits,changes in sleeping patterns, problems with focus, racing thoughts, behaviors that are unusual for the individuals personality, paranoia, fear etc.

    Take time to check in with your emotions. Don’t be ashamed to not be okay! We’ve all been there. Just never give up!

    -BusyBri

  • Autism is……

    Happy New Year! Welcome to 2020! As promised this blog is a follow up to’ “It’s officially; The A word”. If you haven’t read it please be sure to check it out.

    I’m guilty!

    Have you ever saw a child having a meltdown in public or hitting their parent and automatically started to judge? Have you ever thought a child was “too old” to behave in a certain way? Have you ever thought a parent was “allowing” a child to misbehave? Remember that kid in school that you thought was strange? I honestly can say, I’m guilty of all of the above! I now realize I was completely oblivious to signs of developmental disorders and quick to make judgment.

    What is Autism

    Autism spectrum disorder or ASD; is a developmental disorder that impacts a persons social interactions, emotional skills and ability to communicate.

    Parents, caregivers and educators may notice a child isn’t meeting development milestones or meeting milestones and then regressing. This was a sign that concerned me with Riley. He could say “Hello”, “Good”; then suddenly he wasn’t saying it.

    Milestones

    According to MedlinePlus.com, developmental milestones are behaviors and physical skills. Infants and children are expected to demonstrate specific skills at specific age ranges.

    Examples of milestones are rolling over, sitting up without assistance, babbling, walking, talking, running, first tooth and there are many more. Typically your pediatrician will provide a checklist for your child’s age range. For more information on milestones contact your pediatrician. Medical websites are also great resources. Such as MedlinePlus.gov, CDC.gov, Pediatrics.aappublications.org, webmd.com,pathways.org

    The difficulty with milestones is that all children meet milestones in their own time. Some children meet milestones earlier than expected and some later. However, if you’re concerned don’t just brush it off. Make your child’s doctor aware. The earlier the child gets the support they need the better the long term outcome.

    One milestone Riley missed was not pointing at objects. My son Legend is 1 1/2 and points at everything and says the name of the object or asks what it is. Especially as cars go past or airplanes fly over. At 1 1/2 Riley would be indifferent to things like this. Even if we pointed and said look, Riley would continue looking in the opposite direction. This went completely over my head. In fact I only was aware Riley wasn’t pointing when asked during his first evaluation.

    Some kids with ASD are unable to play pretend. Like pretending to feed a doll or stuffed animal. This is also difficult to point out. I thought Riley was playing pretend when reciting scenes from his favorite cartoon. However he was actually scripting.

    Scripting

    Scripting is defined as reciting lines from movies, commercials etc. Riley still scripts. When asked a question he may reply with an unrelated line from a cartoon. This is actually an attempt to communicate. For example, if I ask Riley about his day at school he may respond with a line he has memorized from his favorite cartoon.

    Echolalia

    Riley also repeats the question instead of answering it. This is a common sign of ASD known as Echolalia . Echolalia is repeating noises or phrases.

    Another sign is intolerance to certain smells, taste, textures, sights and sounds. My oldest daughter use to love to play with slime. However, Riley would have a mini meltdown if slime touched him. A couple years ago we took the kids to The El Capitan Theatre in downtown LA. Prior to the movie starting there was a live performance of Disney Characters signing and dancing. The music was loud, there was a light show, confetti and streams. It was really exciting and fun. However, for Riley it was too much. We were on the balcony and I was terrified he was going to fall or jump off. He just wanted to get away. Even after things had calmed down and the movie started Riley was in full meltdown mode. We left early and I remember telling my husband, “Being easily over stimulated is a sign of autism”. My husband tried to ease my mind by saying Riley was tired.

    He’s in his own world.

    Relating to others and or showing interest in others is a challenge with ASD. People with ASD may seem to be in their own world. In fact I would say Riley is in his own world all of the time. So much that I started to secretly get concerned. It may seem as if the child is ignoring you or even has a hearing problem. Also, when people look Riley in his eyes and talk to him sometimes it seems like he is staring through them. Like they’re invisible to him. People will often just figure he doesn’t want to be better bothered. However, that is far from the truth. People with ASD want and try to communicate. It’s just a challenge.

    You can help!

    People with ASD need patience, understanding and empathy. Not sympathy; their brains are not broken but function in a different way. ASD is not an indicator of a persons IQ. Like all of us people with ASD have strengths and weaknesses . You can help by treating everyone with respect and dignity. Not matter physical, mental, development or any other kind of disability people are people. No person is less, no person is more. We are all humans trying to figure out this thing called life. Be kind, don’t judge, help when you can, laugh and love life!

    -BusyBri

    My favorite resources

    Autismspeaks.org

    autism-society.org

    aacap.org

    Nationalautismcenter.org

    asha.org

    Podcast

    All autism talk

    Adventures in autism

    Autism

    By your side

  • It’s Officially; The A Word.

    Hello All!

    I hope you all are having a great holiday! I first want to apologize for the delay of this blog post. This post will be all about my favorite 3 1/2 year old Riley; aka Riley Boy!

    Something’s going on!

    When Riley was around 1 1/2 I began noticing that he didn’t use as many words as my daughter did by his age. I expressed my concerns to my family and even his pediatrician. Everyone gave me the response that literally makes me cringe; “It’s probably nothing”. This is the same thing the doctors told me when I found a lump in my breast at age 25 that turned out to be triple negative breast cancer. That’s a story I will also share in the near future. However, you can see why these statements didn’t ease my mind.

    It doesn’t help that my family thinks of me as always fearing the worst. Again, my personal history may be a valid reason. One family member told me “I don’t want him to have a label”. My response; I don’t care about a label, I care about him getting the help he needs. My family meant will and truly didn’t have any concerns about my sons development. In all honesty I wanted to be wrong; hell I’d rather be crazy than correct. However, I couldn’t completely shake the feeling that something was going on.

    Loss of words.

    Also around age 1 1/2 Riley could and would say hello to everyone. When asked, “How are you”; he would respond, “Good”. However, around 2 he was no longer saying any of this. We would call his name and it was like he was ignoring us or just couldn’t hear. He would rewind videos on his tablet over and over again to a certain part. He wouldn’t answer question but repeat the question. If allowed he could stand in front of the mirror for hours acting out scenes from his favorite cartoons. He could do the exact moment with ever word.

    Also, his tantrums were over the top. I mean banging his head on the floor. My family wanted to get him a helmet. However; it became an argument between my husband and I. My husband believed that a helmet would make reinforce his head banging. Meanwhile, I didn’t know what the heck to do. So like most people I went to Dr. Google. I researched the signs of autism, I looked for peer reviewed articles. I also spoke with his preschool teacher and administrator. They suggested contacting the Frank D Lanterman Regional Center here in Los Angeles, CA.

    Help at last!

    After playing phone tag for a few weeks; eventually, we were able to get an appointment and see a psychologist. The outcome of the appointment was that my son didn’t have enough signs and/or symptoms to be diagnosed with autism. However, my son did qualify for speech therapy (ST/SLP), occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT), through the regional centers Early Intervention Program. Each discipline (ST/OT/PT) came to our home to do an evaluation. Based on the evaluations each discipline developed a treatment plan. Riley had ST and OT twice a week and OT once a week. The best thing about these services were that they worked with Riley at daycare and sometimes home if needed.

    At age 3 my son graduated from the Early Intervention Program and was evaluated by our school district. The regional center case manager attended the evaluation with us. My husband and I had to fill out several forms as the team evaluated Riley while playing with toys.

    The school district can not officially diagnose developmental disabilities; however my son was unofficially diagnosed with characteristics of autism. He was given an Individualized Education Program (IEP); with a treatment plan based on small short term goals. On the day after his 3rd birthday he started his special education program. He received OT, ST and applied behavior analysis (ABA) was added.

    Although Riley was making much improvement with speech; his teacher was still concerned about his behaviors. She recommended contacting the regional center again for re-evaluation. I’ll be honest Riley had improved so much at home I forgot the teacher recommended a re-evaluation. However, at school and on the bus not so much.

    Riley has Autism

    A few weeks ago I called the regional center and requested a re-evaluation. By the grace of good we were able to get in within 2 weeks due to a cancellation. The psychologist told me she will have to write an official report, (we’re still waiting on the final evaluation); but she is pretty sure Riley has Autism.

    This time I suspected this but it was still hard to heard. The blessing in this is that Riley will now qualify for additional services outside of school and get all of the support he needs. Early intervention is key in helping children with autism reach their full potential. Riley still has challenges but his progress is undeniable.

    To be continued….

    Next I will follow up with signs and symptoms of autism, important definitions and useful resources.


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