Happy July! The summer is flying by like it always does! I feel like we are in our routine. We are continuing with swimming club and started the second session. The days of summer are feeling like our ordinary day.
We'll be missing a week of swimming as we head back "up north" for a week, but I am compensating by Daniel swimming 4 days for the three weeks he is swimming instead of 3 days a week. He was VERY unhappy with me about this, but is doing it. I believe I heard him muttering something about "dumb" under his breath which I pretended to NOT hear. This has been happening more and more and it is very difficult for me not to smile as he is basically calling me dumb or stupid (which in his vocabulary is a VERY bad word to say, the worst he has in his repertoire). The reason it makes me happy is because it is NORMAL for a teenager to think their parents are stupid! Only the parent of a special needs child is thrilled to see their kids cheat at a game the first time or call us stupid. It's PROGRESS!!! Normally I'll act offended and tell him that is NOT OK and make him apologize all while thinking "hurray"!! I have to stick to the script!
Yesterday Daniel went to swimming, Zach is in Jr. Lifeguard and loving it. What else is better for a 100% rule follower than Jr Lifeguard? He gets to blow a whistle at people and tell them to follow the RULES! And people have to listen. Plus he gets to swim, and learn to save people. That all has little brother Zach written all OVER it. He is still wearing his whistle, 3 hours after class. Oh boy. He did tell me that he can work at the pool when he is 14, in two years. Not as a lifeguard, but doing other things. I think you have to be 16 to lifeguard and be certified etc. Of course he will be by then. He is formulating his plan. I love that kid.
In the afternoon we were lucky enough to get in for haircuts, which were desperately needed. Haircuts used to be so traumatic for all of us. Daniel would cry and scream and fight. I would do it at home and it would take hours. Sometimes Todd would hold him down and we'd buzz him. It was awful. But he also HATED his hair long, he didn't like when it would blow in the wind almost like it hurt his scalp. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I don't remember how old he was when my friend and hairdresser Kari suggested she try. She was magical with him. It wasn't perfect in the beginning, but over time he trusted her, and she even got to where she uses the clippers to clean up the bottom and sides. Now I get to go in and watch him chat with her, script his haircutting script from Elmo's World and it is so easy. I never thought it would be easy. She was a savior. Shhhh, don't tell her, but I'd pay her A LOT more money than I do, just so I don't have to do it!
On the way out of haircuts I took a different route because we were meeting my husband for dinner. A few blocks from the salon I remembered this route took us past the new Belle Tire store. I have many links to the nightmare that this little logo has brought to us. We were driving along and Daniel said, "when we get to the store of the tire guy, I will duck my head and close my eyes and smile" (a reference to the Veggie Tales song "God is Bigger than the Boogie man") I froze. He has never referred to this without being in a panic or covering his ears. He just said it like he was talking about ice cream. From the backseat Zach said "WHAT did you just say?" hardly believing it himself. Then Daniel covered his ears. I then launched into my speech (delivered in the most light hearted voice I could) "you don't have to be afraid, it's a LOGO Daniel. A LOGO. It cannot hurt you." My same speech I've been giving for years and years. But he is reacting less and less to it. It is obviously working. He said "the tire guy" without reacting. He is avoiding him on his own. I'm not changing my route to avoid passing the store. It's working. Slowly, yes. What isn't slow with us? But it's working. We take and celebrate ALL progress. This is opening his world a tiny bit more.
Then we went to Bed Bath and Beyond. Daniel has a laundry hamper from when he was about 6. It is in the shape of a rocket because his room was, and still is, space themed. He went through a space phase. Had I known then that I would NEVER be allowed to change his room, I might have done a few things differently. Live and learn, right? Well this laundry hamper is one huge mess. There are wires sticking out all over and it is just destroyed. I finally said, "that's it, we need a new one." He asked "is it tattered and worn?" (from Sesame Street, "I love Trash" song) and I said (according to script) "it is and we need a new one." He has learned to accept this. It used to be a HUGE fight. So we were looking for a laundry hamper and we were in the bed area on the way to the bath area. Daniel said excitedly, "LOOK A PURPLE PILLOW!". There was a bed with a purple pillow on it that you use to sit up in bed to read or whatever. I jokingly said, "Daniel is it time to change your room, we could use purple." I say jokingly, because I didn't think there was a chance in hell he'd let me change his entire room! And he said "YES, let's change my room and get rid of my rockets on the wall and paint over them!". I almost fell over onto the floor of Bed Bath and Beyond. He ASKED for a CHANGE in the most important place in our house to him. a. He ASKED (in his own way) and b. he is ready for a change and somewhat communicated it to me. So now, in the middle of summer, I am trying to design a new room for him that is masculine, and has purple and of course he wants it done now. Not a project I was planning on, in the middle of our busy summer, but one I'm thrilled to do. But I'm going to make thoughtful choices. After all, he might not ever let me change it again.
It's these little moments of progress in the middle of an ordinary day that make you feel that all of the hard work matters. It gives you a moment of celebration. It gives you something to hold onto when things aren't going well. It keeps us moving forward.
The Journey: ABA and How I Feel about It Now - [This post is the first in a series about looking back on aspects of my journey as an autism parent and how I feel about it now that my son is 20 years old...
1 day ago