Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Autism around the clock.

Fourteen years living with this Kiddo and he's still finding ways to shock the crap out of us.

Our latest surprise. Kiddo knows what time it is but not by looking at a watch or the clock on his iPad. It's because he keeps a running clock in his mind.  Seriously, we figured out that the Kiddo is forever counting seconds, minutes, and hours in his head. Non stop.

My husband was the first to notice this. He would be outside working on the lawn or whatnot and Kiddo would come outside. He'd ask "Hey, do you know what time it is?" and the Kiddo would always know.  The first few times we thought it was he was seeing a clock on his way out of the patio door but nope.  He would wait a bit and then ask him.  Sure enough, he would be mid jump on the trampoline or swinging in the hammock and he would just rattle off the time.

And he would be right.

I honestly couldn't believe it until I did checked it myself.  I was brushing my hair and he was just sort of stimmy/flappy in the bathroom door frame scripting. Not a clock in sight.  My phone was in my pocket. I didn't even have on a watch.  I asked. He answered and I looked at my phone and he was right.

And we're not talking like within ten minutes or so. He is ON. THE. NOSE.  The other night my husband asked him and he changed his answer mid sentence.  Why? Because it was going from 6:59 to 7:00 PM.  Hubby pulled out his phone to check and watched the clock change from 6:59 to 7:00.

HUH???!?!?!?!?!? How the Hell does he do this??? He's always had a thing for numbers.  It's why he's always loved Thomas the Tank Engine trains and their assigned numbers. He can remember every hotel room we've ever stayed in and the year. He can rattled off at the movie theater which flicks we've seen in each theater.  He loves math at school. So I can't say that I'm altogether shocked per say but at the same time I'm just sitting here stunned all the same.

And you know what I keep saying to my husband?  "HOW DO WE MAKE THIS A MARKETABLE SKILL?????"  Because while it's kind of cool that he can do this, it's also another example of the quirks of autism.  Yeah, great that he'll never be late because he'll always know the time.  We also now know why he's often slow to respond to questions. It's not just processing what is being said to him. He's doing that WHILE being a walking clock.

There's no explaining or telling him "Hey Kiddo. No need to keep a constant clock running in your brain.  We're good."  He NEEDS to do this. This is just how his brain works.  I can't get him to change his brain anymore than he could get me to change mine.

But like I was saying before, it's just one of those things he does.  Can't tie his shoes but he can keep a running clock going in his mind.  I'm not sure what this type of skill can do in the long term or will just be another one of those #TeamQuirky things of his.

If I have learned two things from this it's 1) He will never stop surprising me. 2) It's also always time for another side of fries.

Now we know why he likes to sleep with a clock. Here I was thinking he just wanted to be like Flavor Flav. YEAHHHHH BOYYYYYY! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Inclusion for all! (But only for a little while.)

Inclusion. The first twelve years of the Kiddo's education was in the school district. He went to the regular school just like all the other kids in our town. Now granted he would spend a majority of his day in a self contained classroom filed with other kids with special needs.  He was also  in and out of that class to spend time with his fellow neurotypical peers. His elementary school was BIG on inclusion and we were pretty happy about that.  The kids got to know him and all his quirks.  They loved that he loved to sing and would do so with him.  It was nice to be out running errands and some random kid would run up to say "Hello" to him. I found it heartwarming and it made me think "Yeah, this next generation is going to be the one that gets it.  They are just going to be so use to all things Autism." 

So needless to say, when we realized he had to leave the school district for a different educational placement, I was really worried about the inclusion factor.  I mean, in some ways it's great that his current is school is nothing but autistic kids.  No one cares if some kid is flapping because they might be too busy doing their own stim.  In a lot of ways, Kiddo has become more interested in the other students for the first time.  Maybe it's because he can really relate to them in a way he couldn't before.  

The fact remains that unless we see one of his teenage cousins, he isn't hanging out or spending any time with neurotypical peers.  At all.  I feel really worried about that but I also can't help but feel it's a bit "Out of sight,  out of mind."  We left the in district schools and what I feared would happen, happened. We are totally cut off from that whole community now. I wonder if the kids forgot about him or if the parents forgot about me.  I get it.  Their kids and lives get busy but they are busy “over there” in Neurotypical Land.  Since we don’t travel those parts anymore, are we just a memory in yearbook or a picture that gets tagged on Facebook. “Oh, remember Kiddo? Remember that crazy mom of his? She was fun to sit next to at the PTA meetings." 

What happens when there are no more chances for inclusion with your peer group? I'm hear to tell you. The older you kid gets with autism, the less "stuff" will be out there for your rapidly growing kid.  Not gonna lie, that kind of freaking sucks.  There's just very little that both neurotypical and autistic teens can join together.  There's a very distinct line.  Unless a lot of prompting and organizing goes on in the background by adults, these typical teens are going to be busy doing what typical teens do.

Sure, you see the odd "feel good" story about the basketball coach that put the autistic teen in for the last ten minutes of a game and everyone cheers when the kid makes a basket. It wouldn't be prom season without some viral photo or video of a typical teen taking one of our quirky kids as their date.  I'm not knocking on either of these things. Inclusion is inclusion and I'm a inclusion junkie. I'll take it where I can get it.  I'm just asking, can't their be more?  Of course, I can't figure out how to make that happen. I also don't know how much I can push that whole thing with my Kiddo. He does has his limits with those wacky neurotypicals.

This shouldn't be hard to do but for some reason, it is.  Life just gets so busy for every family. Even our one "go to" NT family isn't one we get to see anymore.  Other than an occasional "like" on something one of us posts on Facebook, I don't hear from them. How many times can I call, text, or email for a get together and hear silence on their end? Okay, I get it. It was cute when the Kiddo was small. Now that he's huge, not so much so.

I guess what I am trying to say is what's the point of inclusion if you only do it for a limited amount of time? How can we go about fixing this?  I'm almost at that point where I don't want my Kiddo to have only a viral moment here or there.  He should have access to those people all the time. They deserve to access to my Kiddo all the time. He's freaking awesome.

Of course, I might be bias. ;-)