The End of Summer

School starts in two weeks. That means I have only one more true week of summer vacation. “Practice Week” begins on Monday the 23rd. Reacquainting Colin with a more rigid routine is not something I’m looking forward to, but it has to be done. When summer started, I told myself that keeping him in his normal morning routine (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, take meds before tv or games) would be critical. Also, adhering to a regular bedtime would make it easier on him so he wouldn’t be tired during the day…which brings Tigger out in full force. Did any of that happen? Um…no. The only routine activity he’s clung to is reading the Sunday comics. “I only like the Sunday ones because they have color. The ones on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are not in color and that means I don’t like them. They don’t make sense without the color.”

I think it took all of two days for me to sink into the joy of sleeping in and letting the kids get up without me. Colin won’t walk down the hall to the living room alone if no one is out there…so on mornings that he’s up first…he crawls in bed with me and turns the tv on. Actually, he doesn’t crawl in. He does this wild sort of run-jump-plop-scramble maneuver. Then, because he hasn’t had his meds yet, the stimming begins. That involves rubbing Mommy’s arms, playing with my elbows, touching my legs and putting his face two inches away from mine and asking “When are you getting up?” Not all that relaxing for me, but still.

The dumbest thing I did was not enforce his morning routine of getting dressed before anything else happens. By the end of last school year, Colin was finally at the place where he would get his clothing, socks and shoes on independently. Then, eat breakfast…brush teeth and THEN he could watch tv if time allowed. Guess what…he is still in his pjs as I write and it’s 10:30 a.m. So, Practice Week is gonna be tough. Adding to the stress is a new bus schedule, new bus route and new bus number. When I told Colin about this change…”I’m STUPIFIED!!”…was his only response, followed by flapping and spinning. Ugh.

Clearly I am not winning the Aspie Mother of the Year Award. But guess what? We had a fun summer! We stayed up late, swam in the dark, chased fireflies and ate lunch on the trampoline. We laughed a lot and grew a lot. So, my last official week of summer will be more of the same. I promise.

And only when I’m all happy and tired out from playing will I get back to filling out forms, scheduling therapies, IEP meetings, TSS set-up and enforcing routine. For now, we’re all just having too much fun…and I’m fine with that.

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The Blog Fairy Returns

I can’t believe it’s been over six weeks since I blogged. What a dry spell that was! I have no excuse, no reason other than pure busyness and distractions that can’t be ignored. Thank you to all of you who have asked where I am or how I’m doing. I’m fine…

I’ve decided to create a new page called “Colin Speaks” here on this fine blog. Living with an Aspie whose manner of speaking and use of language is very pedantic and precise. He enunciates every syllable (would make any language professor proud).

My plan is to regularly update Colin Speaks. I’m not sure why I feel the need to catalog the things he says and does…perhaps to keep those things in my own memory. But, my hope is that it will give those of you without an AS child in your lives a glimpse of what it’s like for both the child and the family to interact with one another. And, for those of you WITH a spectrum child…maybe you’ll find yourself and your experiences here…

Some will be funny, some poignant…some probably very boring!

Happy Tuesday!

Imagine Yourself as Someone Else

 

Autism is a puzzle with more curves, corners and pieces than any of us know.

One of the hardest things for people with AS  is empathy. Coupled with the inability to appropriately initiate social interactions, children with AS have little understanding of how their actions and words affect others. Most neuro-typical children struggle with it, but can be easily taught to imagine how someone else feels. AS kids can’t imagine that.

On the other hand, all relationships are reciprocal. So, those of us who interact with someone that has AS need to also be able to empathize with how THEY are feeling or seeing or why they are behaving the way they are behaving. Only, we can’t. We can’t imagine that.

Imagine that sounds are painful. The vacuum cleaner sounds like a fire alarm. The fire alarm sounds like a jet plane. The water gurgling through the radiator stops you from wanting to play in your room alone.

Imagine that being in a crowded room or restaurant makes you want to spin in circles and hide under the table. If someone strange sits near you, you won’t be able to finish the meal. You’d rather just make loud silly noises to make yourself feel better.

Imagine that only six or seven foods taste good to you. Maybe it’s not the taste…but they feel and smell safe, so you’ll eat them. Imagine that you could not try new foods, even if they are pretty ones, because you don’t know them.

Imagine that you can’t understand what people’s faces are saying. They get all twisted up, twitching, smiling, frowning all the time they are talking. They want you to look them in the eye, but if you do that you won’t be able to concentrate on what they are saying. It hurts to look someone in the eye. Sometimes you can’t hear the words because you are too busy trying to figure out the look on their face.

Imagine that collars, tags and zipper pockets make your skin itch. Your Mom bought PJs and the “out parts” of the sleeves are too tight on your wrists. Makes it hard to fall asleep.

Imagine that you couldn’t tell when someone didn’t want you to touch them anymore. You like touching people’s clothes or licking them or blowing on them or just getting as close as possible. Why won’t they let you do that? It’s how you tell someone you like them a lot. How else are you supposed to do it?

Imagine that you can’t answer open-ended questions without anxiety. So instead, it feels better to just say “AAAHHHH!!!!” Why does everyone want to know if I “like school” anyway? I don’t know.

Imagine that making changes or transitions from one thing to another is really, really hard for you. All you need is a little warning that something else is going to happen next…but most people won’t do that. Imagine that taking an alternate route home to avoid traffic would make your world spin out of orbit for a while and you’d cry a lot about it.

We could all use a little empathy.