Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Trouble with Kitty

The boys like to decorate the house for Halloween. I have a small scarecrow ornament with a happy, goofy face. I bought him many years ago.  Somehow, despite his fall attire, he always seems to escape getting put away in the attic with all the other pumpkins, ghosts and Halloween paraphernalia. In fact, over the years, he has taken up a permanent residence on the steps of our stairs.

Nothing unusual about goofy Mr. Scarecrow

Since he has spent much of his entire boring life propped up pretty much like you see him now, you can imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to see him lying decapitated and partially dismembered on the landing of our stairs with Bandit, our docile cat, standing guard over him like an executioner.

Checking for a pulse

This was unusual behavior for Bandit since he has lived in harmony with his straw-stuffed companion for many years. Why the sudden discord? I think to myself. Why was Bandit suddenly compelled to tear apart his silent and unassuming friend?

As most mothers of children diagnosed with special needs, I immediately assume it is me. Perhaps Bandit senses my dismay and disappointment? I must admit after yesterday's IEP, I am feeling a little sad. I wasn't prepared  for what transpired during the meeting.  Once again, I felt like I withstood another sniper attack, as several teachers and administrators gathered to tell me they think my son Weston is autistic. His severe behavioral difficulties and lack of eye contact lead them to this conclusion.

I suspected long ago that Weston may have this diagnosis and have had him evaluated by the best Neurologists, Neuropsychologists, Psychiatrists and Psychologists in Boston, all have told me, severe ADHD can manifest symptoms that are similar to autism.

The school and I did come to an agreement for addressing Weston's behavioral difficulties, and we have initiated a lot of extra supports for him, including an aide that will help him negotiate the classroom and social situations at school.

However, the entire process left me feeling very sad. So, I assumed Bandit's bizarre behavior was a reflection of my sadness and frustration.

I put the head back on poor little scarecrow man and placed him by my vase of flowers. Once again, uncharacteristically, Bandit stands watch.

I am perplexed at Bandit's sudden preoccupation with the tiny straw man. It is now getting late however, and I need to get the boys to school.

When I return home, I have now forgotten about the incident and head to the stairs. There on the landing, once again, is the headless and battered body of my now mutilated man of straw. This time however, I notice that Bandit has eaten a small hole in the abdomen of my scarecrow. Styrofoam and cotton stuffing litter the stairs.

The crime scene

I hear some commotion in my bedroom, the cat seems to be chasing something. I am convinced that Bandit has lost his mind.

Suddenly I hear a small,

"Squuuueeaakkk, squeak, squeak."

Oh no, I think to myself as it finally registers....Bandit has caught a mouse.

Sure enough, as I enter the bedroom, there is Bandit appraising his prey.

I am amazed at the cleverness of this little mouse and wonder how long he has concealed himself  by living inside the belly of my goofy straw man? How long did he deceive my fierce feline friend? How long did he deceive me? Gross.

I decide that this poor, intelligent fellow deserves an honorable end. I try to shoo Bandit from his prey with a small shoe box. Bandit, not anxious to relinquish the interesting prize he finally deciphered, puts up a good fight. I chase him around my bedroom, praying he doesn't drop the little critter. I corner my cat and finally am able to scoop up the mouse into the shoe box before Bandit could say...cat got your mouse!

I tape up the box and place it outside, knowing my children will be more than happy to provide elaborate funeral services once they return from school.

I smile as I realize this little adventure has distracted me from my sadness. Perhaps, like the mousecapade, the IEP meeting is not what it seems and Weston will benefit greatly from his added supports. And whether he's autistic or not, what difference does one more diagnosis make in this household? We are still a family filled with love for one another.

As for my scarecrow friend, I have retired him from his post. I will miss his silent presence but am very thankful our insidious pest problem has been resolved, thanks to Bandit!

Tired from his mousecapade

Update to "Kitty Story":  When Nicholas came home from school and heard the story of our scarecrow's demise, he asked me if we could give the scarecrow man a funeral so that God could make him "all better" in Heaven.