Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘summer

It’s a party, lemme tell ya.

Ha. Anyone who has a child with autism can smell my sarcasm a mile away, yes? What’s that, ten miles? Why yes, of course. It’s pretty powerful sarcasm.

Barnacle Boy (who is still my Barnacle Boy, btw, even at ten — he wants to see me first thing in the morning, cuddle, be near me and runs up and kisses/hugs me sporadically) is obsessed with computer games. He writes code, scripts games and is planning on being a computer hacker for the government someday so he can help catch the bad guys. Computers are his thing, and he definitely has the aptitude..and the attitude, as he’s not so much for social skills in a lot of ways and he’s got a lot of interest in being self-employed as well as the creativity and ingenuity to invent amazing things. He’s fascinating to listen to, can have a wonderful (one-sided) conversation and he’s got such a sense of humor interlaced with the vocabulary of a well-bred adult. He’s also very routine-oriented and likes things a certain way, which makes showing our house as we sell very…interesting. But he’s going with the flow.

Anyway, BB has his routines, and they are to play computer games much of the day during the summer. With the heat index regularly over 100, it’s not horrible, because he can’t really play outside for more than a few minutes at a time, other than swimming, and he does a lot of that. (But we even have to be careful there, he had another bout of swimmer’s ear last month.) As summer goes on, he’s beating a lot of the games and tiring of some of the things the newer players do. I try to teach him that those players could be much younger than him, and that not everyone has the same level of skill but that’s a hard thing to teach. So what do I hear a lot?

Every mom’s nightmare: “Mom, I’m bored!”

I can do like I do with the rest of the kids and threaten him with chores, but that buys me only a couple of minutes. Other kids scatter like roaches in the light, but he stops for a couple of minutes, thinks, and then again says he’s bored. I have pulled out movies, made cookie dough for him to shape, bought art supplies, you name it…so what did I resort to today? Buying more online game subscriptions. Cancelling two others. It’s a revolving door. So I’m set until school starts in a couple of weeks, right? Ha. It took four hours before I heard “Sigh. I’m going to sign off for a bit, I’m tired of this game.”

Out comes $8 and his sister to take him to McD’s for shakes. Forty-five minutes, and $7.40 later, they are home. Shouldn’t $7.40 buy more than 45 minutes of non-boredom??

I am trying to get him into new things, but that’s a lot harder than it sounds. He’s got the world’s greatest treehouse, with a new sling chair installed, but it’s too hot. He’s got this awesome rip-rider..too hot. Wii? Played all the games. Board games? No, only Stratego..and then he kicks my butt. Every.Single.Time.

I love having him home for summer and I don’t really think it’s long enough, but maybe year-round school suits his needs. We’ve already found out his teacher, and next week, I need to meet with her so he can get a chance to be familiar with his class before the first day, and I can be sure she’s familiar with BB and his needs. It’s in the IEP, but you know how that goes.

Stay out of the heat and if you are below 75 when you go to sleep, hush…

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“Summer camp SUCKS!”

We tried. He really tried, too…at least I think he did.

It was a regular summercamp, one without special needs teachers or programming. A) Special needs camps are costly. B) Special needs camps aren’t local. C) Special needs camps don’t have enough slots. It was 20 kids BB’s age, with activities that included crafts, sports, speakers, and games.

Day 1: We pick him up and he was moping out the door. This didn’t go right, that didn’t go right. He got ‘put out’ for this game, ‘put out’ for that game, and lost five minutes of swimming. Finally, after we let him vent, we learned he’d used a teacher’s squirt gun on another child, and was repeatedly too strong when playing games. (And the squirt guns? They were allowed, a planned activity, but the kids were supposed to use small guns and he used a big gun he found ‘just laying around.’) He didn’t want to return, but we made a deal: go all this week, and you don’t have to go any further.

Day 2: More of day 1, just maybe worse, despite me having spoken with the lead teacher that they might want to make a few minor accommodations. Still didn’t want to return, but was glad he wasn’t having to go next week. (And we’d already planned on only one week, we didn’t have unrealistic expectations.)

Day 3: More of day 1 and day 2, but he did run in that evening with a smile on his face as he showed me the flashcards the local police department gave them when they brought all their canine dogs for the kids to learn about and pet. BB loved the dogs. Then, he showed me his pom-pom animal made during craft. Unsurprisingly, other kids were making dogs, cats and monkeys, and mine made a zombie.

Day 4: Never happened. Days 1, 2 and 3 were cumulatively making his behaviors worse each night, and Wednesday night (aka Day 3) was unbearable. Bad tantrums with things thrown around and knocked off as he walked by. Screaming, yelling, the whole thing.

All in all, he says he’s not anti-camp. He says likes the idea of camp, just not this camp. Part of it was caused by his inability to get along in that type of social environment, but it was worsened because a little boy from school attended camp, and was the same whining tattler he was all year long. While they didn’t seem to make many accommodations for my little guy, even with the special needs I mentioned (I never mentioned the “A” word), they didn’t seem to really do much to stop this aforementioned little guy from his behavior; my son would get a time out, and this boy is rewarded by the kid(s) he whines about getting the time out. What does that teach the little boy? No wonder he’s still whining and tattling so much. For him, it works.

After another mother of a tantrum this evening (we just came home from three days at an RV park with friends), he is quietly (well, sort of) sitting at our table eating a Klondike bar. He ate a good meal of his favorite chicken/ham/cheese nuggets from Fresh & Easy (no additives, preservatives, or extra ingredients) and seems to be calmer. Let’s hope it stays that way, tomorrow’s going to be a busy Monday, and I have no car. (Maintenance time.) I think big brother’s planning on taking him out for a little while, perfect timing.

It has started already. School isn’t even out until Wednesday, and already he’s telling me he’s bored. The mom part of me is thinking “Bored?? BORED? You have a room full of games, toys, stuffed animals, video games/machines, TV, computer, books…..” and so on. The mom to a child on the spectrum part of me is saying “Breathe. Count to ten. He will find something to do shortly.”

Part of the challenge is getting ds to be willing to try different things, to pull out dusty toys, some still unopened, from his closet. The other part of the challenge is for me to develop some patience. I am definitely a much more patient person than I was pre-A (pre-autism) but I still think I have miles to go. I work from home full-time. This means meetings, phonecalls, and tasks on a regular basis. Ds aka BB needs to be able to keep himself occupied more than he’s done in the last week — which is weird, considering that he was getting much better until then. I’m thinking he’s already picking up on the lack of structure, something he thrives on. At school, transitions could be difficult but having a schedule is a huge help for him. (One day, a few years ago, pizza was delivered early to a class holiday party so the teacher wanted to have pizza before recess, instead of after. BB went ballistic, and the schedule had to go on as had been previously announced. Crisis averted.) Yet, having a schedule at home is not only difficult, but life doesn’t work on a schedule 24/7, so I’m not sure that developing one for his ‘free time’ is in his best interest.

Right now, he’s got all 158 Pokemon animals scattered throughout the dining area and office. I hear his little sounds as they ‘battle,’ and he’s literally spinning on the wood floor. He’s happy, and I’m thrilled. Five minutes from now? Who knows.

Next week, dd graduates from 8th grade (a big deal here apparently) and she completes confirmation. Her schedule rivals that of an executive’s right now, and I’m tired of just thinking of getting her everywhere she needs to be, though I am relieved that all the shopping is completed. Now, to choose a bible verse for the ceremony…

Because of the upcoming events, we decided to have a relaxed weekend, one without a lot of plans. We had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for a 98-year-old neighbor, and spent the rest of the time doing things around the house, with the most strenuous being washing the two cars and the truck. How did we get uninterrupted time to do that? Dd took BB out to see Star Trek, and he loved it! Aside from extreme adhd behavior, and a last-minute “I have to go potty NOW” trip five minutes before the movie ended…oh, and the insistence that he had to have sour candy during the movie…he did really well. I think the movie was a bit over his head, resulting in his inability to sit completely still, but he enjoyed it and it was a good time with his sister, so we’ll call it a success. He also played outside during the birthday party, and had no incidents!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a HUGE achievement for him — he played baseball with another family for about an hour, and did great! He’s not a team sports person, yet. Dh tries to get him to play, but he doesn’t respond often. I guess the key is playing with someone else, so now he wants to practice. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to watch him play, with other kids, with a smile on his face. (I did give him a ‘the bat is not a weapon’ speech after, and he did the “Mo-om, I know that” (duh) reply.) Can’t wait to see if he follows through and keeps up the interest!

Recently, we’re in flux a bit about our worship situation, so we didn’t attend yesterday. We’re not sure ds is getting what he needs, yet we weren’t sure how he’d react if we didn’t go, as it’s routine for him — if we are home on Sunday, we go to church. I told him and he sighed in relief. So much for worrying about him reacting if we stop going, which more solidifies my concerns that he’s no longer happy there. Sad but definitely something for us to think about.

Pretty boring blog entry, I know, but sometimes, boring is good, right? Eight more days of school left, and summer is here. He’s got summer camp, an experiment, and I have high hopes he’ll do well. (If not, I’m not out too much money at least.) No VBS this year — dates were changed and it coincides with camp, so he can’t go. Good thing that when I told him, he gave another sigh of relief. One less battle.

I’ll try not to be boring next time. 😉

Seven days of ‘school’s out for summah…’ — he’s wayyyyy too into Guitar Hero and he loves to sing me that song. Now I just have to wish he’d get the words right.

Anyway, it’s 108 here today. I’d bought a ton of outdoor toys for ds to play with to keep him happily occupied, without thinking we’d get a nasty heatwave that would blow my plans to smithereens. So, here we are, grasping at things to do, while the bubbles, sand toys, and chalk boxes sit outside in the sun.

Yesterday, dd took ds to the beach for the day. They spent six hours digging and building, and ds even attempted to surf, much to his unhappiness. Ds+1 long board+2 people holding his hands=wipeout and hysterical tears. And mommy wasn’t there.

Summertime is going to bring some challenges. Today ds woke up with a rash everywhere that sand had managed to touch, and it required a quick trip to the store for an oatmeal bath, then a long bath. He doesn’t earn the nickname “high maintenance” for nothing!

One phenomena I’ve seen is that friend invitations are very frequently one-sided during summer…or maybe it’s all year long and I’m just noticing it more now? Ds has a few friends that call to ask to come play with him, again and again. One of them invites him to their house. So is our house just super-fun? Or is he too much to handle, though others haven’t really tried? I try to understand people, because I know the fear of what could happen if he melts down, if he gets upset…but it’s a lot of ifs, and I wish people would give him a chance. I know, or at least I like to hope, that there are other reasons — suddenly changing plans, illness, etc., things that pop up without warning — but it happens with so many people. We have kids over, and they say ds is welcome to their home at any time, or they say they’ll invite him over next time, but when he asks to come over, they’re always busy, and the invitation never comes. However, there they are at our door again, wanting to play. If I say no, ds doesn’t have the social interaction he needs just for the sake of making a point….or is it really more than a point, if he isn’t having the fun and opportunity of enjoying someone else’s toys and home? Is it just me, or is this another symptom of autism? Is it one of those painful realities that’s a result of being upfront that your child is autistic? Yet, if you don’t tell them and they can’t figure out why your child is having apparent social issues with their child, and they light into you because your child is ‘rude’ or ‘mean’ or aggressive, is that any better? So far, ds doesn’t realize it, another symptom of autism, I suppose. He does ask me now and then why so-and-so doesn’t invite him over, but ds also would prefer to be in his own home, with his own routine, more often than not. And I’d prefer him to be like any other kid and play at others’ houses. Then again, maybe this has nothing to do with autism and everything to do with me and my house being available?

Just another one of those puzzles that I, well, puzzle over. I worry about the big things with autism. Will my son learn to eat, and like, more than pancakes, chicken nuggets and pizza. Will he have a successful year in school with a new teacher. Will he learn to wait in line, not throw toys when mad, and not hit himself in the head when truly upset? Should we really have to worry about if people will be as nice to him as he is to them?

Moving on….it’s 108 here. Have I said that yet? We’ve got just a week left before The Vacation, and all shopping is done. My last worries are of things that I can’t pack: pancakes, chocolate almond milk, and a warm bath, all things very necessary for happy days. The thought of packing makes me want to procrastinate until, hmmmm, say, Thursday or Friday of next week. Then I have to show our housesitter where everything is, how not to set off the alarm and have the police show up, and how to take care of all 47 animals, not to mention the blind dog. Yes, really.

Here’s to hoping everyone is enjoying their summer, especially now that it’s officially here.


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