Saturday, 28 March 2015

A Side of Autism: What is it worth?

*Post was started a few days ago and a few days later I'm trying to finish it - as usual.

I had a meeting today with V-Man's occupational therapist and I don't know about you but I love these meetings.
Trust me, I used to freaking hate them before because they weren't full of progress - compared to now.  It used to be a lot of: "V-Man freaked out and cried when I visited him today at day-care.  V-Man pushed me away...he pushed away the cards...we didn't really connect today...he pinched/bit me...he ran away...maybe next time he'll be happier."

Now, I really like them because I find them inspiring, motivating and also encouraging to keep going.
Whenever I tell people that V-Man is autistic, and that's why he's flapping his hands, not saying a word, humming or bouncing on his toes or trying to steal someone else's husband or wife away at the party (or the food in their grocery bags hanging on their stroller handles) - I always get a "Poor you!" face.  Sometimes that comment too.
I know and appreciate the sympathy but I'm learning and as he gets older (and bigger) - it's getting easier.
It's getting better.

Again - not something I would have even whispered when he was 2 years old or younger.
My motto at the end of every day, once he was asleep was, "One more day closer until he's 18" (18 being the age of majority in Canada at least and able to move out - this was obviously before the suspicion or diagnosis!).
Once we had 3 kids my motto turned into, "I just need to be tough and survive the day.  Tomorrow will be better."  And of course a glass of Pepsi would be inevitably be chugged down to smooth my nerves...

I know I've written (and said) in the past that V-Man is an awesome kid but I was probably typing rather late (and as quietly but quickly as possible!) and while super emotional/hormonal.

Now I can write (it's 3:51 pm and SUNNY!) that it's true.
He's 5-years old - still doesn't speak but is able to communicate what he wants his way.
Of course in an ideal world, he could speak, use the toilet and brush his teeth on his own etc. - but since we're not in that ideal world - I'm learning that this is HIS ideal world.

His meltdowns are less because he's able to communicate his basic needs.
  1. Hunger (he seems to be a teenager in a 5-year old body.  He DOESN'T STOP EATING.) : he will climb and get food himself that he wants to eat or bring a plate, cup or bowl if he wants something at the moment that he cannot reach.
  2. Movies:  We used to fight with him non-stop to try new ones or to not watch them at all or spend at least 10 minutes waiting for him to choose the movie.  He's getting faster at choosing new movies and is better at expressing "nope!" (pushes my hand back to the shelf to put it away) or "heck yes!" (grabs the dvd box and squeezes it and starts stimming).
  3. Contact:  He's reaching out to us and cuddling more and providing a lot of eye contact as well!
  4. Play-time:  He'll bring a toy or fiddle with something with his fingers if he wants us to use it with him.  He mostly "plays" with baby toys - and that's fine.  This is a huge leap for him, within the couple of months, to want to play with toys - so I'm restraining from digging out all the toys we stocked up when he was younger and also trying to refrain myself from shopping for too much.
  5. Going out:  He'll occasionally bring his boots or his harness if he wants to go out or he'll dig out something to wear.
  6. Bed time:  Yes, he's showing exhaustion by just plopping himself on the sofa and passing out.
There are snippets here and there when I can see V-Man for who he REALLY is without the autism and mentally challenged spices and he's really and truly - an awesome kid.
He's super happy, loves to cuddle and still loves to bounce around like a human bouncy-ball and is caring too.
When I see those spiced layers removed - even for a brief moment - whether it be a direct and very solid eye contact and a big smile - I hang onto that for as long as I can.

So now I'm learning that the things that used to be a huge deal to ME - are really not a big deal and to pick my battles wisely.
He doesn't want to wear a certain outfit? Ok.
He doesn't want to eat everything on his plate - not even half?  Alright - as long as he ate something.
He picked that movie and once the previews were over - he decided he didn't want to watch it after all?  Fine - pick another or we do something else.

I figure as long as nobody's seriously injured, dying or gushing blood - I'm doing an okay job and he's trying.

Now it's 3 days later and I'm getting 3 kids ready to go out to the playground (or somewhere) by myself...while SH helps a friend move.
Wish me luck eh?

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