Friday, September 27, 2019

"Mix it up!"

We have been working with a behavioral therapist to address some of the challenges we have with Kiddo's behavior.  Now "Because Autism" is at play here, accepting change has not always been met with rave reviews with the boy.  However, "Because Life", we needed a way to figure out how to make it a bit more tolerable for all involved.  Add to fact that Kiddo is now fifteen and several inches taller than me, there's no "making him" do anything he doesn't want to do.

Kiddo loves "performing" for therapists.  It's very rare where they will actually see the behaviors we talk about with them.  Especially with the guy currently seeing Kiddo. Kiddo freaking LOVES this dude.  We are very lucky to have him. I consider it my good karma for whenever I've let someone go ahead of me when merging on a highway and I give them the "Go ahead" wave.  I mean, that had to pay off eventually.

And for whatever reason, the one thing this guy has taught Kiddo that has caught on so well with him is a simple three word phrase, "Mix it up!".

Honestly, that's its. It's literally been that simple. I don't know if it was time, maturity, this guy's aura, the alignment of the planets, etc. All I know is, all we have to do is say "Mix it up" when we have to announce a change and Kiddo just repeats it and accepts the change.  I KNOW!!  He constantly tells him to "Mix it up".  He won't let him do anything the same way twice during their sessions and I think that has helped driven the point home.  It's just that all the sudden, Kiddo is getting that change happens.

Like we went through a massive power failure.  A Hell of a storm ripped through here a while back and knocked out the power.  For most people, this inconvenience wouldn't be much more than an annoyance that their AC wasn't working on a hot night.  (Which OMG, Mama Fry is way too perimenopausal to be dealing with that bullshit.) For us, I had a legit panic attack when I realized that Kiddo would not be able to have his nightly viewing of "The Polar Express".  I couldn't even hook him up with the portable DVD player because the DVD was stuck in the machine.  No WiFi, so no streaming.  Nothing. It was a Tom Hanks free zone.

But then it wasn't.  Right around the time we would usually be settling down in front the TV, Kiddo decided to "Mix it up". He started scripting the entire movie line for line from the start to the very end.  Including dancing around during the "Hot Chocolate" song and falling to the ground in a dramatic fashion recreating a scene when the characters in the movie fell down.  To quote my husband, "Oh this is so going in your blog."


I have watched this damn movie with the Kiddo every night since we were stupid enough to introduce him to it when he was three.  Three, people. He's fifteen. So let's think about that for a moment.  That he just saw his whole night time wind down routine get tossed aside and he "Mixed it up" and found his own way to cope. In fact, I think was safe to say he coped better than I did.  (I'm 45 and hormonal. Air Conditioning is my god now, people.)

Now while I'm all like a dog whose food bowl got moved with my routine, Kiddo was all "No big deal! Mix it up!".  He still didn't care that the power was out or that it was hot.  He was beyond delighted when I told him that we would be going to stay at Granny Fry's. (who had power and my sweet boyfriend, Air Conditioning.) He did not care at all when I said staying at hers meant that I would have to drive him to and from school instead riding with his beloved bus.  He kept saying "Mix it up!" and just thought it was a big adventure even though his parents are thinking this a bit of a pain in the arse.

Basically, it was the adults in his life that needed the social story more than he did.

I'm not saying this will work for every and any kid. Like all stuff with autism, when it works, it works. Don't question that shit. Seriously, don't do anything to draw attention. Act cool. They can smell fear.

But sometimes, it's really important to bring in a pro. I have no problem letting him think he got one over on us because it took an outside person to teach him something.  Dude, who do you think hired the guy? ;-)

Some things we don't "mix up". His need for Fruit Loops and mine for coffee. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Waiting

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

"The Waiting" Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The start of a new school year with the Kiddo. New classroom. New teacher, Some new paras and some new classmates. After three years with the previous teacher, a teacher who had to pick up and rebuild the Kiddo when we started there, I'm a little more nervous about this change that the Kiddo.  

The toughest part of this all will be the waiting to see if this change works and there is no way to rush it. At all.  As someone who has never liked waiting, it's once again a reminder that if you have a personal issue you need to work on, destiny will make sure you will get plenty of opportunities to learn those lessons through your kid.   You're looking at a gal who when her parents took her to Disney World as a 5 year old, looked at the long line to get in and immediately left her family to go stand with the family that was at the front. I can't exactly pull this move off with him. I have to wait around and see what autism and this change is going to bring.

I can ask him after school "How was your day?" and even on ones where I know exactly how it went because there was an email sent home or worse, a phone call, he will always say "Good" because he has learned this is the standard social norm answer.  I was once again reminded of this when on Saturday afternoon Kiddo announced how a certain kid in his class got in trouble. What exactly they did and how the classroom aide reacted to it.  I had to wait a full 24 hours before I really heard how his day went because it took him that long to formulate how to say that.  To process what went on and how it made him feel. I know a lot of parents don't get the full run down of their typical kid's day either but I'm willing to bet that if one of their classmates threw a desk, they might mention it to you a lot sooner than my Kiddo did. I have to worry and wonder "Did this scare him?" or "Did this inspire him for later on down the road?"

This class placement is also a reminder of the waiting that didn't work out.  So many years the focus was on his academics and waiting for the moments he would catch up with his typical age peers.  Its become more and more apparent that he won't and that's fine. I've always said I didn't care about handwriting just so long as he could sign a paycheck. I didn't care about math skills past the basics.  If I knew he could look at his money and be able to figure out what he could buy on a menu, that would be okay. I waited for more language and while some of that came, most of it is scripted lines he repeats as self soothing mantras. I keep waiting for more spontaneous conversation. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes not.

I kept waiting to catch up and it didn't happen. He needed to wait for me to catch up and realize that.

So his coursework this year will have a greater focus on life and job skills and believe me you, I have wanted and waited for that too. As a former Pre Voc teacher and job coach I have been asking about "When does job sampling start?" so much I'm pretty sure his IEP team has made it a drinking game.  I'm glad he'll be doing these things. I know he will be happy doing them. Kiddo likes to feel like he's useful. If this Kiddo was just a student to me, I know this would be the right choice. I would tell those parents we shouldn't wait on this.  We need to start job training.

I guess I am still waiting for that moment when I wouldn't be constantly doubting myself. Waiting to stop feeling sad about autism when it's brought so many wonderful people into our lives. Waiting to remember that this is where he is suppose to be without having to remind myself our situation is so much better than it was and I'm willing to wait to see what kind of progress we might make down the road.

The irony is Kiddo HATES waiting.  Multiple IEP goals type hate.  So very many social stories type hate. I'm still waiting for him to learn and accept waiting.  I guess if I ask that of him, I can wait and do the same.

I'm still waiting to get off the Isle of Sodor. 15 years and counting should give me tenure by now.