It's been so long. I have felt like I have had no time for writing. Maybe I just haven't "needed" too. Because that is what it comes down to. Blogging about our lives has kept me sane. (ish) Maybe I just haven't needed to feel sane. Maybe I've been "too busy" (the most over used phrase in these United States). Whatever it is, I have been gone. I think I originally came on here to say how far Daniel has come this year. But has he really? It's all about perspective actually. For Daniel, yes he has grown immensely. In comparison to other 16 year olds (yes, he has turned 16 since I last wrote. SIXTEEN) not so much. The small things are so huge for us. Things that I know parents of "typical" kids don't even notice happening because it evolves so organically. At some point they stop and say "wow when did that happen?" but they don't notice it at the time. At least I don't think they do. My only comparison is that I also have a typical 13 year old. Maybe I just handle things differently with him because Daniel is his older brother? I don't know.
So what has happened? We have just completed another swim season. Daniel swims with his high school team. It is the BEST thing for him. He gets tons of exercise which not only helps keep him in shape but it helps his mind. A lot. I can feel adulthood creeping up on us. The questions of what Daniel will do and where he will be are starting to loom over me. I don't have these answers. I have some vague ideas as I tend to do with him. Plans are pliable. They are ever evolving, but a small part of that picture in my mind sees Daniel as an adult and that whatever job he is doing, part of his weekly schedule will include swimming. Always. 3 times a week? more? Who knows. But I picture him swimming after work to relax and get his exercise similar to the way he used to come home from his special needs preschool program and walk immediately up the stairs where I would run a shallow bath and he would lay in the water with it just covering his ears. He would lay there and decompress in the water. Water has always been a way for him to relax. However he could work swimming into his life it would be a way to center himself.
One thing is clear. He needs access to a pool. While he certainly doesn't compete at the level of his team mates, he competes, and I know that is huge. He had a good season, he improved, got faster. He went to some away meets, which he didn't do last year. He had "fans" come to watch him, which he loved. A lot. He always feels like he is the winner, even when he is the last one. Wouldn't that be great? At the league meet, when his name was announced, he stepped up on the starting block and waved to the crowd, both arms high in the air, like he was competing in the Olympics waving and cheering for himself. I was on the pool deck with his team, on the other side of the pool, my eyes filling with tears, knowing he feels so good about himself, watching him wave to the crowd then glancing over to our parents section and watching them cheer for HIM. In that moment I not only felt so incredibly proud of him, but for us. That we made that happen, that we gave him that moment, by going outside of our comfort zone and giving him the space to accomplish that.
I watched him at the same (long) meet, take off his I pod half way through and hand it to me to put it away. No earphones while on a pool deck with what, 10 swim teams? + coaches, + 500 fans, refs with whistles and announcers over a loud speaker. He just took them out and passed it to the side and said, "I'm done with this now". He wouldn't leave his seat previously, unless he was going to swim even though I was encouraging him to go with his teammates to cheer on other teammates at the end of their lane. I tried again. I could see that his posture was different. Maybe not. Maybe I could feel his relaxation amongst that chaos and I asked him if he likes when people cheer for him, he said "yes" of course, I said, "well maybe you should return the favor and cheer for them." He then got up to go cheer for his friend and biggest cheerleader on the team, Adam. We were there for almost 4 hours.
The next day a parent that I barely know emailed me. It was one of the greatest things I have received, complimenting Daniel and all he has done. Amazed at his coping ability and how far he has come. It's wonderful when something like that comes out of left field and helps you see your child through someone else's eyes. Come to think of it throwing his arms up in the air like he is in the Olympics might just be appropriate for what he has accomplished.
Mastering the Obvious in Autism Science - At this years IMFAR autism science conference I saw several presentations on seemingly obvious topics. For example, one study (DaPaz, University of Cal...
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