In the years since P’s autism diagnosis, we’ve seen quirks and behaviors come and go. Some of those we were sorry for them to go like lining up toys to go night-night (i.e., cleaning up). We’ve seen P’s abilities change and develop as well. He now feels comfortable searing out Youtube to watch videos of Minecraft. Right now, P likes to put people into types. For example, the rule following type, the eat all the cookies type, the sure you can come to my house type, etc. But, we still have an affinity for Nick Jr., Power Rangers, Pokemon, Minecraft, Legos, and Dragon Training. Life marches on, and we try to adapt to one new quirk or behavior at a time.
This past week, I was hit with the reality that maybe I am not adapting as quickly or efficiently as I should. P and I were driving in the car heading to a few stores. Out of habit, I said to P, “Please stick close to me while we are in the store.” P holds up his hand in protest. “I know! I know!” he growled at me. He continued on saying, “I’m not the same kid I used to be. I’m 11 practically a teenager now. I’m not the same kid I used to be. I’m trying to be good, mom.” There it was reality thrown in my lap. My little boy telling me how he is growing up. Autism and all.
P is not the same kid who could not go into Target for fear of a meltdown happening. He is not the same kid who would run away in Wal-Mart. He is definitely not the same kid who would who would rip every twist tie off the dispenser, just because he loved them so very much. I quickly regrouped as we headed into the store all the while wondering where did that little guy would run, touch, and bump into everything into the store go?
After the autism diagnosis, I was continually googling autism behaviors or something specific that I observed with P. I would want to know if my child struggles with season changes, do I let him dress like it is winter when it is really 90 degrees out? Or, if my child struggles to maintain eye contact what can I do to encourage eye contact? It was a constant stream of late night questions and answers. The answers I got were in the form of blogs parents started to share about their very own autism journey. The overwhelming response I took away from the blogs was it will be OK.
At the time, I was frustrated. How could these families say it will be OK? Here my child is struggling with wearing snow boots in the summer and sandals in the winter. My child would not respond to his name when peers would call to him. Here was P doing his own thing experiencing the world around him. He wore shorts and snow boots in the summer. He wore sandals with socks in the winter. He learned to show attention when someone would call his name. All the while, he was a happy boy. I would freak out with the new quirks that would show up. When Adelle’s “Rumor Has It” was on repeat for weeks, P would sing along at the top of lungs “Roover have it.” Toys that would be lined up with a military precision that no one could move. If you would scoot the toys, then P would let you know he was very very unhappy. Or P having to have a dinner plate for every food that he ate at a meal because no food could be close to touching.
I haven’t forgotten those words that I had read so many years ago. My husband and I have been in the thick of it, so our vision has been very narrow. We have been through the day to day routine wondering what’s next and what do we do? That day last week will be a day I will remember for a long time. P shared a lesson with me in his own time and in his own words. That experience reminded me to open my eyes, be present in the moment quirky behaviors and all because it will be ok.
What lessons have you learned from your children?
All my best to you,