Tuesday, September 25, 2012

We all scream for ICE CREAM!

I scream, you scream!  We
all scream for ice cream!

What better way to celebrate the new school year than with ice cream sundaes and friends??  This goes for the kids AND parents!!  We have a pretty awesome PTO, and they host an ice cream social each September which includes vanilla ice cream and lots of toppings.  It's a great time for the kids to come to school to socialize and even nicer for the parents because it's FREE!  You really can't go wrong with free ice cream, ya know??  

Zachary and Twinkie attended this event tonight at our local elementary school, and both of them did a great job!  Twinkie was service-dog extraordinaire and managed the mayhem beautifully.  She need some minor corrections to heel/sit as we waited in line and to walk correctly in a heel.  Otherwise, she soaked it all in and graciously accepted the happy children and adults patting her all the while telling her how adorable she was.  I am always amazed about how respectful our community has been of Twinkie being a working service-dog and asking if it's okay for them to interact with her.   Kudos!  She eventually fell asleep under the table; it's just another day on the job for her.  :)  

These types of events are usually very overwhelming for Zachary, but he was so willing to get up and go once he confirmed that Twinkie could come with him.  He really is so much more eager to leave the house and go places just knowing Twinkie is there for him.  Although Zachary loves to go out and about, prior to getting Twinkie, he was becoming increasingly resistant to leaving the house and even going places he was familiar with.  In kind, this was becoming increasingly frustrating and concerning to Joe and I.  It's been so refreshing to see Zachary show the desire to go out into the big, bad world even though it's not easy for him.   

Twinkie is definitely a calming force in the storm of anxiety that Zachary struggles with everyday.  Anxiety Disorder is a hidden disability for both children and adults.  In fact, Anxiety Disorder is more pervasive than any other issue that Zachary has to manage....yes, even Autism.  Anxiety fuels it all at the end of the day.  Sure, he's on the Autistic Spectrum and is definitely redefining what exactly that means, but these behaviors and the intensity of them ebb and flow with his ability to manage the level of anxiety in his environment; this is one of the things that makes Zachary so complex.   

Anxiety Disorder so closely mimics ADHD, that in order to be given a clinical diagnosis of ADHD, psychiatric disorders such as Anxiety Disorder need to be ruled out first.  Having said that, approximately 25% of all children with ADHD also have an Anxiety Disorder.  It seems as if Zachary couldn't dodge that bullet either.  And, when you look as "normal" as Zachary does, it's hard for people to really believe that the escape behaviors he may engage in like yelling, abruptly getting up to leave and non-compliance are actually the result of a disability driven by his environment as opposed to him simply misbehaving.   And, for the record, as a very bright, 9 year-old boy, Zachary does his fair share of misbehaving!! :)  Any parent of a child with special needs will tell you they high-five each other whenever they see a typical, age-appropriate behavior no matter how obnoxious it may be.  It's just how we all roll.

Click on this link to read more about ADHD/Anxiety Disorders.  
NYU Child Study Center

We ALWAYS arrive a couple minutes early or exactly on time to events like this because it gives Zach time to slowly acclimate to the rush of sensory stimulation that would naturally occur where there's a lot of happy kids at a big ol' ice cream party.  Zach did need a few reminders to appropriately use acceptable "escape" phrases, and as always, our friends are beyond supportive and accepting.  They get Zachary, are never offended by him and love him for who he is....we will always be thankful for that type of support!  :)  

It was also pretty awesome to see how well received Twinkie was by the building principal and faculty that were there serving ice cream.  We walked in, and no one gave Zachary or Twinkie a second look.  They smiled in a "Twinkie is so cute" kind of way, and that was about it.  There were no questions, no uncomfortable looks or no weird vibes.  It was an ice cream party, Zachary was there, so was his service-dog...let's make a sundae.  

(The added bonus for me is that I was so busy chatting with friends, keeping an eye on the kids and Twinkie that I didn't even eat any ice cream.   When I consider the Weight Watchers train wreck I experienced the past couple of days, I can promise you I won't be withering away!  LOL)

All in all it was a positive, happy experience for everyone involved.  

Ice cream never tasted so good.  

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