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Summer update

Summer update

In no particular order, some updates from our summer so far!

The initial genetic testing came back.  It was the kind of testing that looked for single letter changes in genes, not for larger deleted or duplicated portions of genes.  It showed that Janey didn’t have Rett Syndrome, as the geneticists thought she might.  What did come up is a disorder that is hard to figure out the significance of, and which might or might not have anything to do with her autism.  It’s a dominant genetic disorder that can cause seizures during sleep of the frontal lobe.  It has once in a while been associated with intellectual disabilities, but not usually to the extent that Janey has.  It can cause other sleep disorders, and she certainly does have very unusual sleep issues, but not perhaps the ones this causes.  The interesting thing is that the testing shows she inherited it from Tony.  Neither of them seem to have ever had seizures, during sleep or otherwise.  I was a bit overwhelmed at the time the report came in and I haven’t researched this as much as I eventually will.  It’s a very rare disorder—only about 100 families in the world, and we do plan to join a study about it.  But for now, it raises a lot more questions than it answers.
Summer school was…mixed.  The first 3 weeks were great.  Janey was in a sleepy mode, and therefore was more than well rested for school, and seemed to thrive.  But starting with week 4, she went into no sleep mode, sleeping very little each night if at all, and when she was awake, she wasn’t in a good mood.  We started getting calls from school every day.  If you’ve ever been in that place, you know it’s very tough waiting for that call, and hearing the latest about what has gone wrong.  I fell into a very low mood for a few days there, remembering all the toughest times.  Summer isn’t my favorite time of year ever, and with Janey screaming and crying all day, then heading to school to scream and cry more so we got calls to go get her….it wasn’t a good couple of weeks. She was also acting up on the bus to a big extent, and we got to hear about that every day as she got off the bus.  But by the last days of summer school, she had cheered up a bit and the very last day, I guess she was even good on the bus. 
At home, Janey loves to do three things most.  She likes car rides, showers and eating.  We do all we can to give her as much of those three things as we can, but there comes a time around 8 each night when she’s had multiple car rides, multiple showers, and she’s eaten as much as any person on earth needs to eat in a day (usually very healthy food, but even that has a limit).  When we tell her no more car rides, when we report that the shower is closed, when there is no more food being offered—well, you can guess it’s not a happy time.  It can feel very frustrating to try so hard all day long to keep her happy, and then to have her get so angry when we finally just can’t offer any more.  I know she isn’t really intellectually capable of understanding why we are bothered by that, or that she isn’t really being fair, but we are human beings with feelings too, and we can get worn down by her fury.
More and more, we realize Janey really craves, in addition to the three things mentioned above, time to herself, time alone.  And that is one thing we can’t really give her, not fully.  When she gets home from a car ride, she likes to play in our long driveway.   And that’s fine—as long as we are watching her. We live on a busy street in the city.   She isn’t an eloper, and she has never gone into the street, but strangers pass by all day, and it just isn’t safe for her to be alone out there. But she tries. She attempts to push us inside the house.  She says “You want to take a shower?”, hoping to tempt us inside with what she herself would love.  She sometimes is even more direct, saying “Want to GO AWAY???”  It makes me so sad that she can’t have that little thing she wants, to just be alone and play.  We tell her we are just going to be sitting there—we won’t cramp her style, but of course that doesn’t matter.  When she’s in the house, she likes it best if she can be alone in the living room, and we do try to make that happen, but our apartment isn’t huge and we do even inside have to keep a  backward eye on her.  I wish she was able to have the freedom she clearly wants.  But I don’t see a solution here.
Janey will be 19 in a few days.  It’s hard to believe.  In so many ways, she’s a delight to us.  Even with my griping here, almost every day brings another great time with her, another funny moment or surprise joy.  Today, Tony took her for Chinese takeout, and they waited in the restaurant for her food.  When someone else’s order was called, Janey eagerly jumped up to grab the bag, and Tony had to stop her from walking off with it.  Then she saw someone at a big table that looked like it had lots of room, and she went over to try to sit there.  Both these things were done with her infectious smile and joy in life, and people responded to that, by smiling and laughing and being kind.  There is something about Janey that brings that out, in so many people in so many ways.  It’s what gets us through it all.  It’s what gives us hope on tough days.  It’s been a long, strange 19 years, but boy, does she keep life interesting.

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