Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ramblings on a First Day of School Eve

I'm sad. I can't believe the summer went so fast, and, for the first time in a very long time, I'm sorry to send 2 of my 3 off to school tomorrow. This summer was, you see, the best one I've had since Evan was 1 1/2 years old, and it wasn't long enough. We had some trouble, but overall the theme of the summer was the same as my last blog: the Best. Summer. Ever.

We saw such milestones this summer. Not in speech, or coordination, or strength, but in happiness, in risk-taking, in socialization. The summer DID go horribly right, and now my stomach hurts and I'm not sleeping because I'm worried about what comes next.

Some of the best news of the summer was that Evan learned to swim underwater and to jump in the deep end (this skill is less than a week old). These were HUGE accomplishments, because his fear of the water would literally paralyze him. From a safety perspective, we had to push him continually through his discomfort, and we couldn't have done this without his swim instructor from Swim Angelfish; if you aren't familiar with this organization and are a parent of a child with special needs, look them up - you won't be sorry. Now that he can jump in over his head and successfully swim, we will put him in regular clothes and shoes to be sure he can still do it; this is an incredibly important skill, which may seem silly to some, but the change in sensory input and extra weight of the clothing could negate Evan's ability to safely get himself out of a dangerous situation. Anyway, here is a picture of him swimming underwater:

We didn't do as many things as I would have liked this summer (my reference is the days when he was little, and I could drag him anywhere with the girls without complaint...it wasn't easy, but he was little and so it was doable), but we did what he could handle; unfortunately, that meant skipping some of the things on my girls' summer bucket list, like the beach (which he can't tolerate because of the sand). He did tolerate a trip yesterday to the zoo, an item on his older sister's bucket list and he did very well. He does continue to fatigue quite easily, and I do have to carry him on occasion; he is getting so tall that I'm not sure how long I can continue to do this, but on the bright side I find that if he is wearing his headphones, I don't get any disapproving stares from passerby's, which I appreciate.

A few more random pics from our summer:

Evan not mini-golfing.

Evan not eating ice cream with everyone else.

Evan kayaking!!!

So, with such a big summer, am I premature in my worry for the school year? Maybe. However, Evan has mentioned some things that have raised my haunches, including the fact that his stomach hurt on his recent tour of the school (and his only question was where the nurses office was located), that he only trusts his school "2%", and that he's not sure he's going to eat because "I only trust the school 2%". Here's to hoping that I'm pleasantly surprised, again.

Farewell, summer of 2017 - it's been a good one.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Skateboard Obsession, Day 1

Real kid practice needed a little intervention today in the form of bribery. After returning to our house from a trip out of state, Evan retreated to our TV room from which he has barely reemerged. By 8 this morning, he had logged over two hours of video gaming and TV watching (he watches others play video games, so I'm not even sure how to categorize that), and had said no to every alternative activity I offered. No to anything inside our house (playing, coloring, cooking, swimming), no to anything outside our house (movies, indoor play place, stores). Yesterday I had to resort to the "you're going to summer school if you don't leave the house" line, which worked like a charm, but today I was trying to make the point that he can't spend his whole day in front of the TV or computer even if we stay home. The idea of limited screen time grew more and more caustic to him, but LUCKY ME - I was out running when he really broke down, so Dad had to work through the roughest part of his tantrum; during this time, Evan told Jayme that he's always wanted to learn to skateboard and so Jayme suggested that finding a skateboard could be something we do today.

I'm not sure how Evan settled on skateboarding, but I think it was from a video game because he was using terms like "pop a wheelie", which is something we don't say in normal conversation here. Skateboarding did the trick, though, and he happily left the house. Several stores later, and VOILA ~ our skater dude was born.

Evan practiced for a long time in our driveway. A really long time...over an hour, which by Evan's standards, for physical activity at one task, is huge and by the time he was done he was like a limp noodle when I was taking his pads off. He talked about practicing tomorrow morning (so he could play video games after), and that his goal is to do turns and ramps. I'm not sure he'll actually stick with it, but the $20 skateboard and $25 pads were definitely worth the conversation and activity that I got this afternoon. 

I'll admit that one of my limitations as an autism parent is my ability to stay motivated in the face of Evan's restricted interests. With my girls, there was always something we could do together (baking, coloring, scrapbooking, trips to the zoo, etc.), the biggest hurdle being my constant exhaustion and lack of creativity. With Evan, however, there is little that I can engage him in; Jayme has a much better chance of getting his interest due to their shared love of roughhousing, video games, Star Wars, and superheros. On the rare occasion that I can get him interested in something, like Legos, it's very short lived (he'll build the Lego guys, then I spend hours, alone, building the rest). I tend to really feed into Evan's lack of motivation with social activities, even within our own home,  and do less with him, and less with the girls, which makes me feel guilty; it's a cycle that is quite hard for me to break. In fact, I feel like there are some days where I've spent less than 30 minutes with Evan in the same space as me for the entire day!! That isn't his fault, it's mine. It's an easy trap to fall into...he's got an electronic babysitter and that frees me up to do something else, or nothing at all. 

Anyway, I'm hoping that Evan's skateboarding interest will last for at least a few days. I dream of being that parent with boarding ramps in my driveway. Drumming is the other thing he's interested in right now, so if I can just push that one off for a little bit, my waning hearing will be thankful.