Monday, January 12, 2009

How I Came to Spend 3 Hours in the Psych Ward

Sometimes being a good homeschooler means knowing when to look for outside help. There are times when we have to admit, "I can't do this on my own." Looking for, and finding, the right help can be tricky though.

Years ago when Rob and I set out to find help for our son Sparky we began by reading everything we could on Asperger's syndrome. The library was a great resource. I was really surprised by the number of books available on the subject. Gosh, I even found a couple of books on homeschooling on the autism spectrum!

Shortly after that I attended a 2-day seminar on Asperger's that was a huge help. It gave me the practical information I needed to help my son learn social skills and to help me deal with meltdowns.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself looking for help again. Sparky is getting older (10 1/2) and the Asperger issues seem to be getting more intense in some areas. Specifically, meltdowns and dealing with anger. So, today Rob and I spent more than 3 hours, along with Sparky, at the psyciatric clinic at U of M where they have an Asperger/autism clinic.

The clinic gave us a ton of information and options. Rob and I will be taking the route of attending sessions ourselves, sans Sparky, to learn how to deal with his emotional needs. They'll be teaching us how to teach our son. I prefer this approach over the approach of the therapist working directly with him. I'm with Sparky every day, the therapist would only see him once every week or two.

I know from the comments and my emails that this is a topic of interest to a good number of you. So, I'll post on Asperger's as I attend these sessions beginning next week.

In the meantime, please offer up prayers for Sparky and other Asperger kids. Prayers for their parents and health providers would also be great. Thanks!


Catherine said...

Dear Maureen,
Found you while surfing for info about an organized FOCA novena going on. As it happens I am also a Catholic blogger and have a dear nephew who is diagnosed with Asperger's, so I've bookmarked you.

BTW, if you're interested in being part of on ongoing prayer group for Obama's conversion, check out

Happy New Year,

Kris said...

I am praying for Sparky and for Tori (I saw the request on CCM) and for your strength in homeschooling. You are an inspiration.

Maureen said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Sparkey is a remarkable kid, as always I will pray for you all!! Blessings Chrissy

Anonymous said...

Maureen, Sparky and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers. As the mother of an Aspie (now 15), I can relate. I don't know if this would help, but I found this website about therapy dogs for Aspies: . People with Aspergers/HFA often seem to relate very well to animals. You might want to look at the story of Temple Grandin, if you haven't already done so. The Myriad Gifts of Asperger's Syndrome by John Ortiz, and Asperger Syndrome and Difficult Moments by Brenda Smith Miles, are two books I've found helpful. Best wishes to Sparky and your family!

Maureen said...

Ann thank you so much! The therapy dog idea hits home for a couple of reasons. One, I've also noticed that having a pet really helps him. Also, when he was a little guy, only two, he had a long grueling test at the hospital -- 4 hours of drawing blood every 20 minutes. They could get a vein in his arm and had to go through his foot. As a result, he had to sit on my lap the whole time -- no walking around with an IV and board attached to your foot! He was miserable and at the end of his rope when they brought in a therapy dog. It was a gift from heaven!!!

Renee said...

My dd (10yo) was diagnosed with ADHD almost 4 yrs ago (or was it three?) But lately my dh keeps mentioning Aspergers. He says he sees things in her that remind him of Jerry on Boston Legal.... she recently started therapy for her anxiety so maybe this therapist will have some insight as to whether she is properly diagnosed or not.

Deb said...

Maureen, the Director of Family ministry for our diocese has 4, maybe 5 Asperger children. He and his wife take calls from other parents. He's also a Psychologist, I'd be happy to pass his info on to you. He's been a great help to may friends, who are Asperger parents.

Home School Mom: Denise said...

Hi Maureen,
A friend of mine and myself have begun a Catholic Homeschooling for Aspies yahoo group, if you know anyone that might be interested. You can read the description at this link:

My 7 yr old son is high functioning autistic and we have always home schooled (out of 4, he's our youngest). I too often blog about him and another son that suffers OCD. Prayers and God's grace to all the moms out there with this challenge.