Thursday, August 30, 2012

Second Day Success

Don't you hate when the ed tech rushes toward you at the end of the day with, "I'm so glad you're the one picking him up today, I have to talk to you!"?

I hate things like that.  I swear the three seconds between that and her next sentence seemed like an eternity as my brain turned out five thousand thoughts per second.  Was it a great thing?  Did he headbang?  Did he urinate all over the bathroom?  Did he spontaneously say something new??  Please don't give me bad news on only the second day of school.

She then proceeded to tell me this.....

Brian was the first one out to recess and he started running towards the play equipment.  Suddenly he stopped and turned around as if he was waiting for someone.  He soon spotted who it was and....wait for it....yelled his name.  This boy that he was waiting for is a godsend and was in his class last year- just a sweet, wonderful little soul. Brian ran over to him and said "swing" with a bunch of jargon mixed in there.  The boy joined him on the swings.  And they swung together.

Later he played on a rock with a little girl.  He couldn't figure out how to climb it and he held his hand out to her wanting help.  She helped him and spent time showing him how he could do it by himself.  Another classmate from last year, whom Brian seems to love.

Then in music the same boy from before was sitting in front of him and again Brian yelled out his name as if he wanted to tell him something.

Take a pause here.

This is the first time he has ever called a child by their name (not counting his brother) without verbal prompting.  And he did it twice today!

This is more independent social interaction (on the second day of school) than he has done in all three previous school years combined.

I honestly have chills.

That is how I hope to be greeted every day after school!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cutting the Cord.

I'm home.

I finally cut the cord and just left my baby in second grade.

Each year on his first day I stick around for a while, make sure he's adjusting well, answer any questions I can, help new staff understand the quirks.  Each year I think my stay gets a little shorter and a little shorter.

He still has his wonderful ed tech, this is her third year working with him now.  I can't imagine what kind of helicopter mom I would be without her.  She provides him so much stability and comfort.

I took such care packing his bag this morning, checking everything over and over again. So much stuff for a little guy to have to carry around.  He always manages though.

I watched his excitement as he realized this is the year he gets to play on the big kid playground, the same one Corbin has been on for a couple of years now.  I watched him run right in the middle of a kickball game and watched his brother gently guide him out of harm's way.

I watched him lead his class into his new room, with a little hesitation as he thought about heading back to his 1st grade room.  I watched him easily find his hook and his seat and put away all of his things.

I watched him color, cut, and write.  I watched him do his art project his own way, no need to follow the boring normal way.

I watched him get his backjack chair for circle and still slump down like a wet noodle.

I watched him go with his class to art.  I watched him obsessively stop at every water fountain (even though he's not suppose to) and do a sort of tap dance down the hall so his new shoes could touch every single different colored tile there was.

Most of all I watched his affect.  And he's happy.  He is really happy to be at school.  That is all I really needed to see.

Here's to hopefully an awesome year!!  It already seems to be starting off better than the last.

And I'm just pretending I don't remember the kid laughing at him when he needed help knowing what to write on the back of his art project today.  Karma, baby.  Karma.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Survival Items

Just another example of why our noise-cancelling headphones are our go-to item that gets packed for EVERY outing.

Brian was feeling a bit anxious when we got on to the ferris wheel but once I pulled these out his whole body calmed and he really enjoyed the experience.

What is your go-to item?  What saves you every time?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New Home, New Routines

With a new home, comes new routines.

And there is one that just has me laughing every time he does it.

Within the first few days of living here I noticed Brian was opening the front door every morning and yelling something out to our neighborhood.  He would then repeat this routine in the evening.

Just imagine that cute little red-headed boy standing in his underwear yelling with determination to all of our new neighbors who probably know nothing of autism.  I wasn't sure what it was he was yelling but it was definitely a similar phrase each time.

It wasn't until last week that I pieced together the whole routine.

In the mornings he likes to turn on all the lights.  He is usually the first one up and he comes down the stairs and turns on the lights in the foyer, kitchen, dining room, and livingroom.  Then he opens the door and yells.

In the evenings when it is just starting to get dark he likes to turn on all the lights.  He turns on the lights in the foyer, kitchen, dining room, and livingroom.  Then he opens the door and yells.

With this piece of the routine I was able to figure out his jargon.  I know I'm right because he always gets so happy when I repeat something he says to him correctly.

He's yelling, "Turn it on!!".

Because he can't just have all of our lights on, he needs everyone in the neighborhood to have theirs on too.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Public Nuisances

Dear Stranger in the Children's Tent,

Last week we both had the brilliant idea of bringing our children to the Lobster Festival.  What we were thinking is beyond me.  I noticed that you ended up in the Children's Tent like we did, as well as about thirty other kids.  It was mayhem in there, if you ask me.

And why places haven't given up on having public train tables are beyond me.  They are, honestly, the bane of my existence.  I'm sure you don't have those struggles.  The struggles of having a child with Autism and OCD anywhere near a train table that could be touched by other little fingers.

However, I was proud of Brian as I watched him flit from one end of the tent to the other, not knocking over any toddlers, taking turns with the racetrack with two other boys, and not ripping trains out of anyone's hands.  I was thinking that maybe this would finally be a successful outing.

Until he did rip a train out of your preschooler's hands.  I hope you noticed that I immediately engaged in the situation and made my son hand the trains back to your child (yes, I had to pry them from his death grip to do so, but we did it).  I'm not sure if you noticed, as you instantly turned your back on us, that I had to sit with him folded up in my arms and legs as he screamed and thrashed.  I'm guessing you thought that he was just being a brat.  That wasn't the case at all.

He had left the trains on the track because that's where trains belong.  When he saw your daughter placing them on the grass, that was very hard for him to bear.  He has autism.  He has OCD.  One could argue they go hand-in-hand, however I remember Brian's autism before he was so strict in his routines so I have to argue that his OCD now classifies as it's own entity.  He is physically hurting when he can not set things right or finish a routine.  Spend thirty seconds with him during one of these moments and you can feel the pain yourself.

It's not a fun thing to hold your eight-year-old child in the middle of a children's tent screaming his head off.  It's a scary thing that I could barely hold him and the truth is setting in that when he is that angry he is becoming stronger than me already.  It's a sad thing to be in a sea of fifty people and have not a single person show compassion.

However, this letter isn't about that.  It's about the fact that I calmed my child down.  We stood up to leave the tent when he looked over and saw your daughter had placed the engine and two cars back on the grass of the table.  Your daughter was on the other side of the table looking at the tracks you were putting together.  Brian reached for the train and I let him BECAUSE YOUR DAUGHTER WAS NOT HOLDING IT ANYMORE.

You looked over and said loudly, "He took your train again!".  Your daughter hadn't even noticed or cared.  You then repeatedly said that line several more times, never looking me in the eye or asking me.  I know because I stood there drilling a hole in the top of your head with my eyes.  How dare you try to cause another scene?  Try to cause pain for my child again?  Try to cause pain for me as well?  Because do you know that a piece of my heart breaks every time I feel that hurt inside my child?  I let my child put the trains back on the track and move them around it several times until he looked up at me with a smile.  I asked him if he was ready and he stood up and held my hand and skipped out of the children's tent.

I'm so glad you didn't try to get my son to give back those trains because I really don't need a restraining order placed on me at this time.  It wouldn't look good for me professionally.

Thanks again for your utmost understanding and compassion.  It gives me so much hope for humanity.

-Brian's Mama and Defender