Butterfly grew up with food intolerances and was diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger's
Syndrome, and learning difficulties. Now she struggles with OCDs.
This is the story of how we have faced these challenges.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Chaos of Life

We struggled onward. Butterfly was doing fairly well in her studies. While basic arithmatic was hard for her, she did much better on logic problems and geometry. Punctuation was a mystery for her that we practiced over and over, but her brain just didn't even see the difference between an apostrophe and a comma. They're really the same, right? It's just matter of placement, and what's that?

But other studies were fun, learning about different parts of the world by doing some cultural cooking, or sampling a unique art style or type of music. Exploring science through projects, tv programs and the YES magazine her Nanna gave her for Christmas one year, as well as the work books. There was a big tv production on the history of Canada playing at the time, but each episode was mostly about this battle, and that battle. Butterfly simply had no tolerance for all the wars. So we took our own look at history by examining the accomplishments of any number of people: Ghandi, George Washington Carver, Nellie McClung, Amelia Earhart, Terry Fox and many more, so that we learned together that while war was how humanity solved its problems (and still is), it took a lot of inspired and courageous people to keep us going as a species down through history.
Most of the time she remembered where places were on the globe and map, but when she was in reaction, there was no way. On one test I gave her, I asked her to label Jamaica. She put it in Greenland. That's how I knew for sure I was dealing with a reaction. Then I just switched our studies to art or music.. or both. The art, however strangely created, kept her hands busy, and music... well, music really doth soothe the savage whatever.
By this time Butterfly was getting old enough to stay home alone for short periods of time, so I took a part-time job at a local store to try to get some bills paid. I laid down the rules for her while she was home alone. Bud was still a rather fearful child, so I really didn't worry about her breaking these rules. They were just common sense, like don't answer the door to strangers, don't try to cook anything alone, etc. My hours were usually around four hours in length, and quite often in the morning, when Butterfly preferred to sleep anyway. So I always left her a note with what was in the fridge for her brunch, when to expect me back, etc. I always ended my note with "Cya! Love Mom." If I ever forgot that ending on my note, I heard about it.

This actually went along fine for several months, with Butterfly and I squeezing in her schooling around my hours and errands with her Nanna ~ until my boss became ill. She had lung cancer and was going to require surgery. Everyone who worked there pitched in to fill in the spaces, but this sometimes left Butterfly alone for even longer hours, so sometimes I took her to work with me. The boss didn't mind, as long as she didn't get in the way. But Bud was pretty good at either helping out, or disappearing into the mall to do window shopping.

It was, of course, of paramount importance to keep Butterfly out of reaction during this time. I really didn't want her home alone with seriously impaired judgement, nor was I looking forward to any temper tantrums while at work. It was very stressful. I started having my own health problems. I have aluminum poisoning which resulted in colitis. It's usually in remission as long as I stay away from food and drink packaged in aluminum and stick to my own special diet. But with the increased hours, the added stress, and being in a hurry all the time, I found it difficult to look after myself properly, so I had a flare up. Not a good thing. Not at all.

The boss had her surgery and did really well, but she decided to sell the store. When it changed hands, I lost my job. It was just as well. I had paid down some of the bills, but needed at that point to turn my attention back to Butterfly, to my own health, and to Mom, who wasn't getting any younger and needed more and more help as time went on. By then I was driving her to her appointments, shopping and social events. And so life resumed at a saner pace. Bud came along too on Mom's appointments and errands of course, and we became known at certain places in town as the three generations of girls who went places together.

It was all something of a sociology lesson for Butterfly. She learned how to use the cash register at work, how to package stock, and was introduced to the basic concept of working for a living. She learned a little about time management, and some of the problems associated with aging. She also learned something that I think has gone out of style these days, and that's an appreciation for the unique perspective of elders. Bud's Nanna grew up in the big depression. My dad had been a veteran of WWII. In a pop culture that tends to either put the aging away in homes or pat them condescendingly on the head and disregard them, Butterfly was lucky enough to share in the rich mosaic of experience that comes with hanging out with a Nanna and an old Mom. I think this has given her a depth that many people don't imagine, much less acquire. I hope it helps her in life.

At the same time, Butterfly was learning about modern technology and its benefits as far as we could afford it. Mom and I continued to quizz her on math, geography and other subjects in the car. And when we got back to Mom's, we often had a game of old fashioned Scrabble. This helped keep Mom sharp, helped me relax a little, and contributed to Butterfly's language and spelling skills. At home we focussed on current events. This usually provided plenty of learning opportunities. For instance, it was around this time that the tsunami in Indonesia occurred, so I got information online at enchantedlearning.com about tsunamis and at the same time, we reviewed tectonic plates. Butterfly wanted to participate in tsunami relief, so she ran a little 'guess the number of jelly beans in the jar' game in town to raise money to donate to Unicef. This taught her a little about fund-raising, charities, and once again, the behaviour of that bizarre species we call people.

And so we settled into another new routine ~ for a little while.

Photos: "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up"; biking in Spring.


  1. Uh oh. I sense more to come!

    I still have never left Goose home alone even for a minute. She's 10 almost and I have a hard time cutting the apron strings. It's hard to know when to let go when they can go into a reaction at the drop of a pin, and if you aren't there to help, who will be? :(

    Music therapy.. we do that a lot here. Sometimes it helps immensely and there is the rare occasion that it will wind her up too much, but 90% of the time it helps rather than hinders.

  2. Oh yes. ;o)

    Bud is such an insomniac, she wasn't all that active during the usual morning shift. In the afternoon I sometimes took her to her Nanna's.. depended. And those few evenings, her dad was home. But yeah, it was dicey. I could always trust Bud to call if there was a problem. I never had to close the store and come home, but... When the boss got ill it was a very unstable situation. I haven't worked for someone else since.

    Yeah, music played a huge role in our lives. Still does. :)