Sammy Archive

Rough Times for Little Ones

Posted April 26, 2021 By kmarrs

Sammy is not doing so well. This pandemic and the resulting isolation have really gotten to him. He recently reached his breaking point and is now super suicidal.

In late March, he had a full-on plan, and a backup plan, on how he wanted to kill himself. He was already in weekly therapy and we were sorting out the ESA situation with Ziggy. He’d also recently started Prozac, but if anything it made him worse.

So I took him to the Children’s Hospital Crisis Center and they admitted him to their psych ward for a few days. I cannot stress enough that he wanted this, and I’m very proud of him for making that decision.

He was there over a few days of spring break and while there he was in some pretty intense therapy. They gave him all sorts of new skills and ways to cope with his depression. His medication was switched to Lexapro and an anti-anxiety med was added to the mix as well.

While he was inpatient, I bought a bunch of toolboxes and locked up every single medication and sharp in the house. That way upon release I could promise him he’d be safer in his home.

As of right now, he’s still in rough shape but we’re working hard to lift him out of his depression. One of the key changes is I’m sending him out to play. The landlord built a nice playground right across the street last summer but we were in quarantine and I couldn’t let him play on it. But at this point, we all got covid over the winter, and it will be a while before we can get it again we’re pretty sure, so I’ve decided fuck it and am letting him play with the neighborhood kids, now that it’s nice enough outside. I can’t lift him out of his loneliness if I don’t let him play with the kids outside.

I’m hoping with continued time outside with the kids in the area, more and more weekly therapy, helping him practice his skills, and a good amount of help from medication, I’ll be able to help him climb out of the pit of despair.

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Transition

Posted April 22, 2021 By kmarrs

We could use a bright spot, yes? A bit of happy?

Not long after I came out of the hospital, Sammy came out of the closet as a trans boy.

I will confess there were some mixed emotions, but none of them will stop me from loving him unconditionally and supporting his desire to transition.

What with him being 9, I’d like to discuss what a healthy transition looks like today and how it will progress.

A few days after he came out, I took him to get his hair cut. He expressed a desire for a boy cut, so he got one.

He also wants boy clothes. Since it’s that time of year where I buy him new summer clothes, that just meant shopping in the boy section. He did add in that he wants some girl clothes too. He likes pink and purple and unicorns and dresses and boys are allowed to wear these things. He just wants a balance in his closet.

In a year or two, if he still identifies as trans, we’ll start him on puberty blockers. The nice thing is these aren’t like hormones with irreversible changes. They simply delay puberty.

Did you know it’s seriously a lot easier to change your name if you’re a minor and your parents do it for you? We’ll change his name to Samuel when he’s 16 before he gets his first ID.

Then when he’s older we’ll discuss hormones and surgeries, if he wants them, and help in any way we can.

So transition will be a long process spanning the next decade or so. But for now? He’s experiencing gender euphoria over his handsome new haircut and the boy clothes I’m buying him. Which means, I guess, that I’m doing something right.

With that handled, I settled into my youngest being my son.

But then he met some of my found family when made an emergency trip to Indy, which I’ll blog about later. There he met more nonbinary and trans masc people. He slowly started adding definitions of different genders to the queer wiki in his head.

Around that time he started talking about how he was a boy but still wanted to be a pretty princess. I confirmed prince was not an option. So I cautiously suggested he might be he/him nonbinary, and explained that that is a thing. He took this knowledge and worked with it for a while.

Not long later he dressed as a girl for a day and told me that while usually he’s a boy, for that day he was a girl. At which point I taught him about the gender-fluid identity.

It’s been a roller coaster of watching him discover himself over the past few weeks, but he’s finally settled on Gender Fluid, for now. If he changes his mind, then he changes his mind. If he doesn’t, then he’s gender fluid. I’ll use all sorts of pronouns for him from now on based on what gender he was on a day something happened.

I’m just really glad I’ve raised my kids comfortable to explore who they are, and secure enough to share their findings with me.

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Zachary

Posted January 21, 2021 By kmarrs

Meet Zachary! He’s high strung and mouthy but he’ll settle in. Need to train him out of chewing on people as a sign of affection. But it is affection and not aggression. So we’ll work with him.

So Zachy is a year old pretty much exactly. And whomever he lived with before did like zero training during the crucial training time.

He likes to chew on hands and arms to play and I need to break him of that. We’re responding like a hurt dog would, crying out in pain and going limp in the arm and it sometimes works. We’re also distracting with his favorite toy. But with the idea that he needs to play with people, we’re also teaching him fetch as a safe outlet for play with humans and a release of energy.

He is a chewer in general. We’ll work on that next. For now certain bedrooms are off limits and Sammy’s lovies are living on the top bunk.

He’s also having accidents inside. Of both types. He’s being taken out every 3 hours almost around the clock but we need to step it up to every hour or 2 as long as someone is awake. We’ll also start dispensing treats and praise when he goes outside. And shame him when he has an accident inside.

Then of course we’ll work on basic commands. I think I’m going to enroll him in obedience school. I was planning to train him at home, but I think we might need help. The catch is everything is closed because of covid. So we’ll work with him in the meantime and see what happens. I’d just really like him to learn leash manners and recall so the 9yo can walk him solo. That is a ways off but it’s a goal for the future.

We took on a challenge of a dog with special needs and I had an idea of that going into it. He’s a good dog and he means well, he just had bad humans before. I refuse to fault him for that even as I strive to correct him and train him. He’ll be a fine ESA dog with some work. He’s already made Sammy happier. So the future is bright.

I figure most the people in this house have special needs of one type or another. We all need a little extra help and love. So I have love and patience for a good dog that needs extra care. It’ll pay off in the end.

It’s like… ok…

My 13yo chews to stim. He used to chew on charging cords cuz good stim texture. Drove me crazy. But I discovered stim chews necklaces and keep him supplied (his current one is shaped like a sloth. Sloths are his current Special Interest.) and as a result he’s stopped chewing charging cords.

So I’m going to directly compare to the dog that chews. We’ll teach him not to chew humans and other things and we’ll keep him supplied in his favorite chew toy, and it’ll work out.

Both autistic kids and poorly trained dogs, while not generally comparable, do require extra patience and consideration as to how you can meet their needs safely. In this, there is no difference.

Please know 2 things.

1. I would not trade my 13yo for anything.

2. Unless this dog becomes aggressive and my kids are in danger, I will lovingly teach him better habits. And would not trade him for anything.

I love with my whole heart and unconditionally.

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Serotonin Boost

Posted January 14, 2021 By kmarrs

Sammy is majorly obsessed with snails. Just really seriously obsessed with snails. She is a Weird Girl with a capital W and I love that for her. Also, I have a local friend who breeds snails, among other things. So for a very small amount of money I was able to hook Sammy up with a couple of snails and an enclosure. Sammy had a serotonin boost this week that’s for sure!

(I gave them too much food. I’m still learning how much they eat. Don’t @ me with how much food is in there. When it starts to go bad I’ll pull what’s left out and give them fresh food but less.)

There are 3 of them in there. 2 adults and an adolescent. They are good little buggers. I’m rather fond of them myself.

Sammy spent the first couple of days terrified she’d do something wrong and kill them. Especially when they stopped moving long enough to sleep. But she’s mostly worked through that anxiety now and is really enjoying having them.

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Toby

Posted October 8, 2020 By kmarrs

I work evenings now. I’m usually gone when Sammy goes to bed. Which wouldn’t be a problem, if Sammy didn’t have crippling anxiety.

Unfortunately, Sammy does have crippling anxiety, with a side of depression. The worst of it is at bedtime.

One night I was lamenting that I would give anything for Sammy to have a dog that could go to bed with her every night. A furry friend that Sammy could find comfort in when I’m not there. I’d train the dog that Sammy was his human and he could help her not be scared.

The catch is, our rent goes up a couple of hundred dollars and we’d need to pay a hefty security deposit if we got a dog. And while we could mostly afford the basics of dog ownership, we can not afford extra rent.

Then my best friend suggested an ESA dog and it’s like suddenly the skies had cleared. ESA dogs and their disabled humans are a protected class and legally our landlord can not charge us extra rent or a security deposit for one. And Sammy is in for real, legitimate need.

I spoke to Sammy’s therapist, and she is in huge support of the idea. She’s looking into what she needs to do on her end, then she’s going to write a letter that basically prescribes Sammy with an ESA. We’ll take that letter and a print out of the law to our landlord and have them add that to our file.

Then we’re going to go to the shelter and find a pitbull or pitbull mix that responds to Sammy as the sad puppy she is. Pitbulls make excellent ESA dogs.

Together we’ll train him with the standard set of obedience commands like sit and stay. I’ll also train him to sleep in Sammy’s room at night. Since he won’t be going to the grocery store or other errands, the basic discipline commands are all he really needs. I’ll also train him on how to be walked by the 9yo, who isn’t very strong. We’ll walk her together right now, but as she gets older I want her to be able to take her dog around the neighborhood by herself, without the dog pulling on the leash.

I told Sammy about the decision a few days after I made it. She’s in research mode very concerned with learning how to train, the best food options, the best dog beds and toys, and “we’re going to get the dog chipped, right mom?”

It took her all of 24 hours to name the dog we don’t have and that we’ve never met. I campaigned for Ativan since the dog would be helping her with Anxiety. She considered it but eventually settled on Toby. Her only concern was the Toby was a boy’s name and the dog might be a girl. I pointed out dogs don’t have a gender and that blew her mind but settled the problem.

We’ll welcome Toby into our life within the next 6 months.

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Zoo Trip! Zoo Trip!

Posted September 24, 2020 By kmarrs

I took Sammy to the zoo this past weekend as a belated birthday trip. We have a membership so it’s super easy to just pack up and go to the zoo a dozen times a year. Things slowed down when COVID hit, but we’re getting back into the swing of it.

This trip was a little different than our normal trip though. You see, our zoo as an adventure cove with all sorts of fair rides and such. Also scattered through the park are additional rides like pony rides and a train through North America. Our long time favorite is the 1914 carousel that I always find the money for, but usually, we can’t afford the other rides so I have to tell her no. This time, however, I asked my mom to sponsor a couple of ride bracelets that basically give us limitless access to all of them and she agreed. They are actually a pretty great bargain.

The first ride we went on when we got there was this water roller coaster. It had two drops that weren’t extremely high, but there was a splash involved with each. About a minute, or less, after getting seated and starting our way through it, Sammy decided that actually she is afraid of heights and didn’t really want to get wet, but it was way too late for that. Luckily I was able to hold her tight and she didn’t die of freight but she did have some regrets by the end.

The next ride we almost went on is that boat that swings back and forward. We made it to the front of the line before Sammy decided that maybe it also went to high and actually she’d like to go ahead and skip it. I didn’t give her any hassle. Limits and boundaries are healthy and to be respected.

She did, however, enjoy a nice pony ride. And we rode the train together. Then we made our way to the camel rides and we got to ride one together. She was a little nervous through that because camels are taller than she expected, but she eased up and decided it was fun after all by about halfway through. Then we made our way to the carousel and rode that a couple of times before it was time to leave because the zoo was closing.

We did, actually, see a handful of animals too. She loves the big cats so I made sure she saw the lions and the cheetahs. We didn’t manage to see the tigers, but that’s ok. There is always the next trip. We also saw the seals which is a new exhibit that I love with all my heart. My friend works for a seal rescue in Ireland so I’m learning to appreciate them more than ever.

We’re going back on Halloween. This time we’ll actually focus on seeing the animals. (Though there is always carousel money.) The animals will have pumpkin enrichment and it’s a great final fall trip before it gets really cold. Not that the cold has ever stopped us. But a lot of animals den over winter so the winter trips are less productive.

I really enjoy having unlimited access to the zoo. I’m glad I got the kids a membership from Santa this last Christmas. That will be the regular gift from him from now on. It’s something we can all enjoy and it’s right about the Santa price point.

Here are some photos of Sammy I took that day that I enjoy.

Here is the water roller coaster. Sammy has decided she’ll try it again when she’s 25.

This is the swinging boat ride she almost went on. It looked fun.

There were a few other rides I would have loved for her to try. But she just wasn’t ready and I’m not mean enough to push her. She did the roller coaster so I’m super proud of her, even if she does have regrets.

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