Thursday, June 17, 2010

An Exclamation Point!

We are in the first week of summer vacation. This is always a very tough week for Daniel and I BOTH. He is transitioning to a completely different schedule (or lack thereof) and well, so am I. We'll start with me. I just went from exercising for myself almost daily with friends, to... not. I went from working and going into an office when I chose to, to... not. I went from quiet most of the day to....not. I now have to adjust to the constant chatter of Daniel and to Zachary wondering "what's next". I get sensory overloaded. I never used to know what that meant, but life with an autistic child has given me great incite to myself. I need the quiet. Lots of parents are going through the same thing I realize but don't have the label for it. It takes me a few weeks to not want to scream at everyone to stop talking. I said "want", I don't actually do it. As the non autistic person in this story, I have the strength (most of the time) to "keep it in my head".

Daniel struggles. I remember the days when it would take a good 3 weeks until he'd transition to the summer schedule. Just when I'd think I couldn't take it, he'd settle in. That time frame has shortened, but the days he struggles, he really struggles. We spent Monday and Tuesday this week with Daniel yelling for a minimum of 2 hours. Slamming doors. Just being angry. When I very very nicely gave him suggestions of things we could do together or he could do on his own. He yelled "I CAN'T TELL YOU TO SHUT UP"....well, I thought, I think you just did....

The weather was sketchy. When school went away, so did the sun. It was bordering on chilly and the sky was threatening rain. The pool was out. I have one child that you have to fight with to get him to do anything and another who spends 4 hours at a basketball camp and then wants to know what's next? Opposites. It's hard for me to balance. I always figure it out. But for some reason it always takes me a while.

Yesterday, Daniel, told me "I won't be angry today" and it was actually much much better. I don't know which came first, if he made a conscious effort to not be angry or if it was his way of telling me he was feeling a bit better. Either way. It made me happy and more importantly,he seemed to feel a less stressed.

This morning I saw a missed text from my neighbor. Her boys are Daniel's age and twins. They walked home with Daniel this year and have been pretty inclusive with Daniel. They are used to him and Daniel's constant scripting. The Sesame Street talk doesn't seem to faze them. In fact they have reported an amazement of Daniel's vast knowledge of every single character. Their mom called to tell me that the boys were having some kids over tonight to sit around the new fire pit, roast marshmallows, make s'mores and "hang out" with about 9 kids. They wanted to invite Daniel. There would be loud music, but they didn't think that would be a big deal, as they've seen him at the "activity nights" at school and at another neighbors garage dance party. He's good with it. The concern seemed to be it might be a long time for Daniel. The mom wanted to make sure Daniel was good around fire. He is. He LOVES a fire. It is very calming for him. In fact we converted our wood burning fireplace to gas this year so we could turn it on at will. He loves it.

The only other concern of the boys is that neither their mom nor myself be anywhere around them. They know I'm always lurking around in these situations. I have agreed to stay away. The only other concern is it will be a long evening, but they live across the street, I am pretty sure when he's "done" whether it's an hour or two, he will be thrilled to be included and the time will be well spent. I gave the thumbs up to mom, and she said she'd have one of the boys text Daniel an invite, since that's how everyone was invited. . . Yes you heard me. During my absence from blogging Daniel got a cell phone. The time had come. With him getting more independence I felt better that he could contact me if he needed to. I also wonder if he can connect to some of his peers this way. Let's face it a one sentence text with time to process the information has to be easier for Daniel than a face to face conversation. It's worth a try.

I went back to making my breakfast and sort of forgot about what was going on. I didn't expect a teenage boy to even be up at that hour, let alone to text Daniel quickly. As I was eating my eggs, Daniel came bursting through the door from the basement. He said very excitedly, and slightly out of breath, "I have to get dressed!!" I was somewhat confused, but noticed him clutching his cell phone in his hand. I asked him why he needed to get dressed and he just held out his phone to me. I asked if he had received a text and he said "yes". I took the phone and read it. It said, "Hey Daniel, this is _________ and I was wondering if you would like to come over at 7:30 for some s'mores and brownies" (they SO have Daniel figured out!)

I explained that it was at 7:30 tonight, and he was in fact, not late. He relaxed a bit and said to me "I want to go". I told him he should text him back and let him know. Daniel took his phone and typed out "I would like to come over tonight thank you" Then he looked up at me and very sweetly asked, "how do I put exclamation points on this?" I think that I melted. Right then and there. He wanted to express his excitement. I could tell he was excited, but I don't think many other people would have figured that out from how he looked. But in that one sentence, he wanted to show his enthusiasm. With an exclamation point. How. Cool. I showed him how to do it, and he sent it off. He was out on the trampoline later, while I was weeding. He said "I'm so happy I feel like dancing". His funk is gone. His anger has dissipated. With the invitation from two boys who thought to include him. They flipped his switch as we like to say. I'm sure they have no idea how much it meant to him. But for us, it was !