Archive for the ‘autism’ Tag
April 23 2012
I am participating in Momalom’s Five for Five. Today’s topic is on Change.
Change is hard for any little boy. It is especially difficult for a child with autism. Anything out of the ordinary. What he’s not used to. Every step out of character. It all has the potential to be terribly frightening.
Combine that with the sound of a dentist’s drill, and it’s horrific.
The dentist comes to my kids’ schools once a year for general checkups and cleaning. A mundane visit. Yet this probing stranger with an oral obsession and bright light shining from his forehead had invaded what Buzz has come to know as his safe space, and he didn’t like it.
His teacher made a valiant effort to comfort him enough to be seen at first. She was no match, however. I heard he bolted from the room, with a speed that’s morphed like a folk tale. Which is when I was called in.
I could have made it easy on all of us, but I at least wanted him to be checked for cavities. While it took almost an hour of a kicking and screaming scene, we finally made progress to the chair.
And then, after all that, he opened his mouth wide. Like it was nothing.
By that point, the cleaning didn’t seem so important. We’ll tackle that next time. I’ve come to realize there will always be a milestone for Buzz. For now, we made progress. The unknown didn’t win. We conquered a fear. And we got a toothbrush and floss to take home.
March 16 2012
There’s a certain time that Buzz comes home every day from school. I could write it on the calendar, it’s been so accurate. It doesn’t take long, about 7 minutes, to get from there to here. We’ve both come to rely on this. I stand at the door and wait for him, like clockwork. But clocks break, as ours did yesterday when his bus driver took a different path, dropping another child off first.
This casual change completely threw us off schedule.
One of us more than the other.
I was worried when he didn’t arrive home at his normal time. More minutes passed as I paced back and forth, with a keen interest out the door. I’m his mother, I’m supposed to worry. But just as I had picked up the phone to call, his bus pulled around the corner and my concern erased.
But autistic children live off a schedule that they’ve come to rely on in their head. You take them out of that routine, and it’s chaos in there.
Buzz was very upset when he came off the bus, his torment and confusion worn clearly across the red cheeks on his face. The driver stopped me as I guided him off, apparently unaware of my son’s needs. “Excuse me”, he spoke, shielding his mouth from the rest of the passengers. “Is he a bit… autistic?”
“Yes”, I answered, holding my little boy’s hand.
The bus driver didn’t realize. He apologized and said he knew better for next time. Still, while I was just glad to see him and thankful nothing was wrong, it took extra reassuring for Buzz to calm. A gazing alteration in scenery flipped his day.
It’s classic signs like this that I noticed before he was diagnosed but never added together, lumping it in as just another of his quirks. It’s all so very clear now that I know.
January 30 2012
My hands are full. I suppose I could see how this simple statement that spectators like to offer might come across as offensive, but I never saw it as such. To me, it appeared as a way to notice that I was doing the best I could considering, but there’s just not enough of a single me to go around.
The thing is, I do have my hands full. They are spilling over, actually. This mothering gig doesn’t come easily. I’m not the only one.
Because aside from what you see, there is what you can’t. There truly is something to be said about not judging a book by its cover. If all I had to deal with was my daughter and all of her exaggerated 3 year old antics. This really is the hardest age. Except there’s more, as there always is. There’s the worry and stress that come with Jedi’s diabetes. It adds an additional question on top of everything. He’s your typical 8 year old in every other way, however, a barrel of contradiction and steadfast opinions. So even that doesn’t say it all.
There’s more, as there tends to be. Without knowing him, Buzz looks like a typical 5 year old boy. And when he acts out in public, you could assume that I just don’t have a grip on my son. But his autism manifests in many extremes. He is exuberant energy and emotions that range from the highest high to the lowest low with nary an in between. At his best, he is difficult to manage. His attention and focus are limited, tried and true discipline doesn’t work. He lashes out when he doesn’t know what else to do. Which is often. Even with every great quality, of which there are many, he could take up the only two hands I have by himself.
So yes, my hands are full. To those who say it out loud or just think it to yourself as you pass by. I completely agree with you.
January 04 2012
You start a new school today. Because no one wanted to listen to me.
It’s not my choice. I would have preferred you stay at the school you’ve known, with your brother by your side, at least until the end of this, your first, school year. Your progress there has been amazing, surpassing my expectations. They taught you how to write your name, and beginning words. You know your letters and can count to 100, though you skip a lot along the way. It’s the little things that most your age have known how to do for awhile but you’ve struggled with. And now you’re learning. Not just learning, but loving.
In switching schools after you’ve just begun to feel comfortable, I’m afraid that will change.
I also know, however, how you’ve surprised me in the past. You manage to work in mysterious ways. You’ve taken actions in stride after I’ve already braced against the aftermath. You rise and you fight, even when your fear is palpable. I left you crying mercilessly on the very first day of school, I’m terrified I’m going to leave you the same again. It breaks my heart to do this to you twice.
But you are strong. And you are bright. And you’re going to do wonderful. I know change is hard to understand, but I’m trying to do what’s best for you, even when it’s not my favorite choice.
Although if you want to raise hell just for the first few days, you have my support. I’d kind of like to say I told you so.
With so much love,
November 21 2011
I sat in a squeaky office chair as a small conference room of school faculty read aloud their reports. The room was otherwise silent and my expression absent as they detailed what they had observed from Buzz during their evaluations. Every few minutes I would glance up at the clock, willing for it to end. Stop bombarding me with what he’s doing wrong and tell me what we can do to help him.
Going into it, I had stated that I wanted answers. I had no idea it would feel like so much of an attack.
“He seems unaware of others’ space, and puts himself in unsafe situations.”
He’s always been my dare-devil child. I make jokes about it, even. You should read my website.
“He doesn’t participate well in class, and has a hard time focusing.”
Well, yeah, because of his trouble communicating. One of the reasons he was in therapy before.
“He has trouble making eye contact.”
I only noted this because his teacher mentioned it in the previous meeting and I knew I was filling out those stupid forms wrong. Personally, I’ve never noticed a lack of eye contact.
“He has a habit of playing with toys out of their intended purpose.”
He’s 5. He’s imaginative, I don’t understand why that’s bad. This is a ridiculous thing to single out.
“His speech mainly echoes that of what is said to him.”
I can’t argue with this.
I was sitting there, an abundance of negative aspects about my child being clinically read aloud, arguing the seriousness of each in my head. All while I was fighting the tears from my eyes. It was such a hard thing to hear, along with a diagnosis I had blindly swept out of possibility.
Put it all together, however, and it makes sense.
My son has Autism.
But he’s still my same little boy.