Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘zoo

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!

Today BB went back to school..for the attend a field trip. To the zoo. Lots of kids on a crowded bus on L.A. freeways. Yeah, I know, I’d have second thoughts, too. I didn’t chaperone — being in neverending escrow changes your availability and I stayed home. Working. Fun stuff.

I dropped him off at school and approached…<deep breath>…the mom who won’t let her son play with BB very often. The mom who supposedly said  BB is “trouble,” and who isn’t happy with his behaviors. I’m leaving in two weeks, why not, right? You’re right, why not. I explained about BB, talked about how much he loves her son, how important their friendship is, and why I wanted her to realize that he wasn’t a brat. He’s my son, and he has autism.

Ten minutes later, I’ve learned that while she already knows he has autism (thank you, big mouth neighbor who needs gossip fodder..karma will bite you someday), she basically defended her son and didn’t affirm to me that she’d teach her son anything. “Oh, I know autism, my step-brother’s child has it and is the same as BB.” Are you more flexible with your step-nephew?

I left school glad that I’d faced the lady, but sad that it didn’t really change anything. Then I came home to go to work, and lost the whole day with escrow issues, work meetings, and stuff with the rest of the family.

He came home..after a call that he was back early and could be picked up..and he wasn’t happy. “The field trip sucked, Mom.” Sigh. He couldn’t see animals due to kids in the way. He was punched and picked on. Verifiable? No, because I’m sure if he was punched and someone saw it, they’d have stopped it..but in his mind, the day sucked. I’m sad. A zoo trip, for a child, should never suck.

And the zoo sunglasses? They okay’d us sending money if the kids wanted to buy something in the gift shop. I know from firsthand experience, it’s a nightmare coordinating that for the teachers/aides/chaperones, but why not, we gave him $11. Why $11? Not $10? For $11, he could purchase a $9.99 item and have money for tax. I told him before he left for school, “the most expensive thing you can get is $9.99.” So he did, $9.99 sunglasses. And they rock. He looks like the doll that he is…a cool doll, but a doll nonetheless.

He’d wanted to go back to school his last week here. Now? I don’t think so. I’m sad for him, but to see him so happy here at home, I’m okay with that. I watched the new show, “Parenthood” on NBC, and was encouraged to see them portray a verbal child with autism so accuratelyl. I cried. My husband cried. And I cried again. Thank God for a DVR, we could pause while drying our eyes. Thank you, NBC and the producers/directors of “Parenthood” for being oh so realistic. It hits home…and we will watch week after week after week.

Autism sucks. Our children, they don’t suck. Find their gifts and play with them, get involved in their world. Oh how I wish every doctor and professional advised us parents of that.

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