Thursdays tend to be hectic for us, schedule wise. Yesterday didn't change any of that. But at the end of the day I had one of those moments that makes you remember just how far you have come. It astounded me.
Our usual schedule is this: Before my first stop I pack up two swimming bags, one for each boy, complete with towel, suit and goggles. I make a snack for each of them and bring a drink. Pile it all into the car and go pickup Daniel in my car at his bus stop. Once I have him, I drive to Zachary's school. Then we drive to MSU to Jenison Fieldhouse for Daniel's swimming. Sometimes my husband picks up Zachary part way through Daniel's swim or sometimes I leave mid swim drop Zachary off at a different location and rush back to get Daniel before he finishes. Then when all is said and done we go to dinner. It is a carefully choreographed dance that needs precision timing to pull off. But it works for us.
I was tied up at the post office, literally. I could not get out of the parking lot. (Happy tax day!) I admit this is my own fault by waiting until this time to put my state taxes in the mail, but it is what it is. I was panicking thinking I wouldn't get to the bus stop on time. I barely made it. Daniel got in my car, I asked how his day went and he said very calmly and matter of factly, "I was a little stressed in computers today."
me- "Oh, I'm sorry, what made you stressed?"
D- "something disappeared from my screen" (still calm and not reliving it before my eyes like used to happen. He'd be back in the moment and be reliving it. I believe it has to do with how his memory works.
me- "I know how frustrating that is, I get upset when that happens too."
And that was it. We drove to Z's school and got in "the line". At some point Daniel usually starts escalating and worrying that he'll be "late for swimming". We do this EVERY week and every week he worries and frets and stresses about how many cars are in line. He began again and I reminded him (as always) that we don't have to be to Jenison until 4:00 and we have at LEAST 20 minutes. I remind him to look at the clock. But this week, he calmed down.
Next phase, we arrived at Jenison fieldhouse and waited for his MSU student to arrive. And we waited. And waited. I asked the professor if he had heard from Daniel's guy, he had not. Daniel was pretty patient. He looked at me and said, "is Josh sick?" Which was a great question. I said I wasn't sure and how about he go change and wait on the bench in the pool area. (this has never happened before) We went to the pool. I was chatting with my friend and looked down (I'm in a balcony) and Daniel was quietly sitting on the bench, by himself, holding his goggles, waiting. It was 4:15 by this time. No Josh. I yelled down to D and told him he was doing a great job waiting. Then I yelled to the teaching assistant and suggested that maybe???!?! he wasn't coming and to get Daniel in the pool with someone else. He did, although it took 5 more minutes.
It crossed my mind that many things had interrupted his schedule and now he'd be swimming with a different coach which would mean a different routine in the pool. I tucked that thought away and resumed my chatting and waited for the anxious yells to come. But they never did. Not once.
After swimming he came out dressed and said, "why didn't dad pick up Zachary?" who was standing next to me. I said Zachary was really tired and didn't feel great and was skipping swimming today. This alone, in the past, would have sent him through the roof. He would have cried and been "worried" and said he missed it etc etc. Nothing. We were walking to the car and he said, "now we are going to Spartys" a cony place Daniel loves, and I said, "nope we are going to Olgas that's where I told dad we'd meet him". Nothing. Just an "ok".
It was only then that I thought of the huge number of things that went "wrong" on that day. Previously any one of those changes would have set him off to the point that he would have had a terrible night and never recovered from it. But he endured all of them, in stride. These are the little things that make it so difficult for families with autism. Life happens. But when it does it can be so upsetting for our kids that they can't take it. He was having a good day, but I realized in that moment how far we have come. I was thankful that all of the work we've put into helping him deal with his days has paid off. We aren't done, but it was so satisfying to know that HE felt more relaxed and able to deal with the changes. The daily things we say to him to help him through the stress are working. He's maturing, he's dealing. It made for a pleasant day. It felt....normal. It was nice to flash back and see how far we had come, once again. It made me smile.
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