Autism Watch: 2007

Christmas and Autism: The Update

Posted on: December 29, 2010

First, despite being down a child due to the one still living out-of-state for college, it was an excellent Christmas.

I had worries — what happens if it gets too loud, too crazy, he doesn’t get the cellphone he’s been asking for, the list goes on. We had realities — he needed time to decompress, one part of his favorite gift had a minor break the night of Christmas (when he insisted that this kit go with us to see family, despite us telling him not to take it), he got over the cellphone even though his cousin the same age got one (despite us telling him ten-year-olds don’t need cellphones), he had meltdowns during both the decoration of the gingerbread house and the gingerbread cookies (maybe the ginger smell gets to him?) and he cried more than once that his oldest sister wasn’t with us. But, he made it through and nothing was that serious.

The good things, the things that went above and beyond ‘normal’ Christmas fun, negated the problems. He spent hours playing tag in the dark with his cousins on Christmas night, he played basketball with them, without a problem, and when his sister spent the night (without anyone really inviting him), he came home without a problem or even a mention. But the biggest deal? The thing that made this Christmas absolutely most amazing? SNOW.

We’d been hearing for days that it would snow late Christmas night. A lot of people said that it wouldn’t really happen, it’d be a sprinkling to not get excited about, and how ridiculous it was to want it to snow. Still, we wanted it to snow and hoped the weatherman would be right. Before we moved from the west coast, we had to drive an hour or so to get to the snow, and we’d get to the beautiful mountains only to see that every other family within three hours was there right along with us. In your square foot of clean white untrodden snow, you could play but if you had to use a restroom, get your car out of the rut in the snowbank or want to avoid ambulances because too many people decided fast-food lunch trays were credible, safe sledding devices, you were out of luck. We went to bed close to midnight, and I woke every hour to see if it was snowing. Around 4:30, we’d gotten a couple of inches, so I woke BB up as promised. He wouldn’t go past the front porch — I think the sheer cold caught him off-guard. I took a few pictures and went back to bed. I was woken up around 8am with a loud HECK YEAH from dh. Snow, and not just a little. Inches and inches, and it was still falling. We woke up BB and our older son (dd was still at her cousin’s) and took pictures at the dogs’ first foray in the snow. Hilarious. They loved it, and didn’t want to come back in. We bundled BB up as much as he’d let us and he ran out to jump into the snow. Dad went to get snow gear out of storage at the in-laws and it was four hours before BB would come inside; even then, it was only to get some lunch. Another couple of hours of snow play followed, where we built three full-size snow forts and a slide, had numerous snowball wars, and built a life-sized snowman, complete with carrot nose. He then pooped-out, made a bed in front of the fireplace, pulled out his favorite gift (the magic kit) and put on Despicable Me. The snow’s still around, three days later, but he has no interest in going back out. He just wanted to be sure we put a scoop of snow in the freezer to save as evidence of our awesome day. Works for me, a lot of good memories from that one day.

We’re noticing that the “I must be in charge” trait is coming out really heavily. It’s hard to deal with some days. I can say “Please wait five minutes until I get <xxx> done, and then I’ll make your snack,” and he barrels on about the snack, as though I’ve not even spoken. “Mom, want to hear a joke?” “Sure! Let me finish dressing and I’ll be right out.” But he has other ideas, he’s telling me through the door. “Can I read this story to you?” “Yes, as soon as I’m off the phone.” As fast as I can finish my sentence, he’s reading the story to me, like he never heard me. I can have conversation after conversation with him about how friendships/discussions are two-way. One talks, then the other talks. One chooses the activity, then the next chooses the activity. And I daily teach him that he can’t tell me when I can get up and get a drink, when I can start dinner, or what I’m putting on the TV. Yet we go on and on with him insisting he’s in charge, having such a hard time dealing with the fact that the world doesn’t operate on his plans, and that other people have wants and needs and their own minds. Such a test of my patience, though he’s not being malicious. I can’t be mad when he often just wants to sit with me, cuddle with me, or read with me. It’s just something we need to work on, but if only there was a therapy or something available that a) worked, and b) was available to people with jobs and other kids to provide for as well.

Come the new year, aka the closest we’ll get to normalcy, we’re going to start working with the RDI program. I’ve got a couple of excellent other books to read as well, including “Lost at School,” and I hope to put some of what I learn to use, adding to my homegrown degree in Autism. (That should probably come before my web/blog design certification studies and photography and Photoshop classes. Oh, and the jewelry I need to get to the consignment store.)

Today, we ventured out of our snow-covered city and visited a local zoo. What a blast! BB was upset at first, said he didn’t want to be there (he’d forgotten his gum at home and that constituted enough reason for him to hate the outing) and that he’d rather be at the movies. (However, the movies wouldn’t work as the only one they wanted to see showed too late this evening to make the trek home during this holiday-traffic week that time of night.) He got over his issues soon enough though, and we had a great time. As always, the second he got there, he was hungry. And thirsty. And hungry again an hour later. I almost spend more on food when we got anywhere than I do on tickets! Tomorrow is going to be a ‘stay at home’ day, where he gets to decompress before family visits on New Year’s Eve, and any partying we may do that evening. I think we’ll make cookies, and I mean we loosely — we’ll start, and I’ll end up finishing them beyond the first tray.

Happy New Year’s to all!

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1 Response to "Christmas and Autism: The Update"

What a beautiful celebration! Ours didn’t go quite that well, but better than many we’ve had in the past. GL tends to treat everyone, and especially Mom and Dad as his personal staff, and seems to believe he lives in a 24 hour fast-food restaurant. Sigh. If I jumped up and got him everything the moment he demanded it, I’d never get anything else done. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to keep up with his demands, because the moment I move to get him something, he demands something else, too. So when he demands something (he never merely asks) if it’s something he can have, I say, “Okay.” and continue about my business. At first he would start demanding in a louder and louder voice that I get it RIGHT NOW, but I would keep saying, “Okay.” When I had a moment, I’d get up and get it. Now, once I say, “Okay.” he usually wanders off. Sometimes he even forgets what he wanted. But he finally seems to be getting the idea that when I say, “Okay,” he’ll get what he wants eventually, but yelling will not make it come quicker. Not that he doesn’t still try yelling, but he occasionally realizes that it’s not working. Not saying this would work for another kid, it’s just the best I’ve come up with so far.

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