I catch myself sometimes, wondering if things will ever change. Have you ever thought that? I’ve been pondering it a lot lately. From deep in the trenches of life, it can seem like there are huge seasons of long months, and sometimes years that feel like nothing is changing. This has been the case for me for sure.
Daddy got hold of the camera….
But the spirit prompted me to look back at old posts and journal entries, and I found that the growth is happening- it’s just way deep inside, barely visible, like the tiniest blush of green that heralds spring, or the first chilly morning that declares fall is in the air. The kind that bursts into view in occasional sudden spurts; usually in funny, spectrum sorts of ways. And I was reminded of how it really helps me keep going, especially when my health has me feeling blue, to take notice of those tiny victories and the great moments of awesome.
So- on this lovely fall morning I’m going to look for some moments. Hop on board, and here we go….
Monterey Bay, last year.
My youngest, Kydee, takes on life with a zest and joy that few can equal. And she needs it. As the only NT kid of the bunch, she sometimes finds life overwhelming. She is the one that all the others seek out to be with and lean on. Most of the time, you would never know it’s a lot to handle; but this year has been rougher than normal for her because of the added stress of starting Jr. High. Both of us found it an incredible relief to be done with Grade School-and then she jumped right into the next fire with both feet, taking on as many advanced classes as they would let her, plus violin. But it has been good for her. Still, she has many teary nights; so we turn on a NOVA and cuddle on the bed to re-balance, and reset. And I can see a strength building inside that will balance her effervescence perfectly.
school concert time.
DK has moved forward in huge strides this year too. He is now taking a few mainstream classes besides his others. My goal in the IEP meetings has been to try to get him capable of full mainstream by 9th grade/ high school as much as possible; probably with an adult buddy to follow along for a while. But tho’ we are close, the schools are not filling his needs as well as I’d like.
(**Coping Note**- stress got so high that we started having a chewing problem- specifically the rings of the binders. Searching around, I found that the “survival bracelets” that are really popular right now make great chew toys… everyone has one or wants one, so they are not noticed by school peers, even with a split ring threaded onto it; and if you put a dot of fabric glue on the rope ends, you can throw them in the washing machine to keep them clean)
I have discovered lately a real nasty catch22 in the whole spectrum-meets-NT world…. The better we get at teaching coping skills, and strategies to not be picked on, etc.– or in other words, the better they get at “normal” on the outside; the less leeway, charity or even belief they get for what will always be on the inside. DK is one of my catch22 type kids; We are actually getting to the point that if everything is calm, and below his threshold of what he can handle, he seems so “able” and nearly “normal” just a few quirks here and there. Then something will hit his triggers (excessive noise, social bullying, or a new thing to learn in class, etc.) and I will get a note from the teachers as if they have never seen an Autistic meltdown before. I am reluctantly having to admit to myself that I may see more home-school again in my future if the trend gets any worse.
But I am very proud of him anyway– his growth is hidden to most, he still dances in boring situations, and hates showers, homework, and Sunday mornings. But I can see it very well. He is becoming emotionally stable enough to be totally ok with leaving his stuffed palls at home and be “grown-up 8th grade” for the day. I can usually say that he can handle more steps of instruction at once than he used to; and he is getting very reliable at using his words to explain his problem so I can help- even when in full meltdown. Now that is a lot of growth in one year! And there has been a lot of growth around him at church too. Lets face it, 12 and 13 year old boys are just plain seldom mature enough to be kind when someone acts off-kilter from normal. But Kudos to the leaders– They got talking with the youth class president and the bunch of them came to me and asked me for info on Autism, and DK in particular, several weeks in advance of his birthday. They said they wanted to try to make his advance to the next class a positive and uplifting experience that both sides would want to keep going. WOW and backwards WOW. I hope they know that the Lord is as proud of them as I am.
Summer escape day, just us at the pizza place.
My Lovely TeaRose has sure grown this year. She is almost as tall as I am. (I now have to buy her pants labeled “tall” ) and I am now qualified to tell a few stories about puberty in spectrum girls; but gratefully, not really very many. At school, she does not have an IEP plan, because in the district around here the child has to have bad grades first to get one– and this sweet girl will spend all afternoon every day trying to keep up on her homework. It’s harsh on her, but the thought of not getting a decent grade is even harsher on her, emotionally. So we pray, and encourage and praise. Lots. The grit and determination she is learning will pull her thru all kinds of things as she grows, and is an example to everyone she knows, especially siblings. We still have health issues to figure out, but all in all- tho’ it took a while to get stable as a high schooler- she’s starting to move thru 10th grade o.k., skipping across campus.
(**Coping Notes** I do have a 504 plan set up for her- this is mainly to legally require the teachers to believe “mom” when I send emails, and allows for the compensations she needs to keep up in class- specifically in noise overload, handwriting, and extra help to understand when lectures move too fast.
** Also, another coping note–we have had some real issues with high school bullies a time or two; last year, her key-chain dangle that she and I had designated as her visual clue that- “mommy loved her and was thinking about her during the day, so she could be brave” -was stolen right off her backpack by someone in the lunch room.- so this year we developed better ideas.. first we talked to the school, and they now have more adults present at lunch. For our part, we braid a small lock of her hair- it looks like a signature style, but is actually our personal mnemonic representing a mommy hug. and then we invented our own bracelet– with specific beads to help her remember the steps to coping with a stressful moment. I’ll have to post pictures because it works really well.)
Oh- and I started her in flute lessons this summer. That has been one of the best decisions of the year! I believe the teacher was sent from heaven; for she is not ASD trained, but has found a pure joy in learning how my sweet girl’s brain works, and re-arranging her teaching style to match. So I will absolutely keep it going- as therapy, because the music has been so incredibly helpful to the emotional stability of the rest of the week.
Well- now we move up to the big boys.
Math homework help can be fun when you wear big brother’s jacket.
I think I would nominate Brand as my hugest growth this year, and not just in height alone tho’ in hindsight, they all have been moving… But this year, let’s see. He went on his second Prom date last spring- deliberately choosing a different girl from last time. (and looks totally awesome in a tux. ) This year we also made it thru the nerves of getting the driver’s license testing done (yay!) and he has finally moved into the ability to sit down to homework without me telling him to, and doing stuff he really hates. (For all you normal people- that is a HUGE maturity marker in a spectrum kiddie- or anyone else for that matter) But a little ways into this school year (12 grade) he had his 18th birthday, and looked around and realized that all his peers graduated last year (partly one of those birthday deadline things- and partly from struggles with keeping up the speed of school mainstream.) And said “What am I doing this for!” So I reminded him that he had options- he had just not been ready to listen to me before. This time, however, he was ready to jump into his fears- and last week we took him in for a GED test… spur of the moment, too. And– drum roll please– he did GREAT! He is officially finished with high school! And starting to think about future plans. Another WOW. But I still get lots of hugs, one of my favorite parts of being a mom.
At the Gilbert Temple, during construction.
Well- My oldest hates me taking pictures of him. And, in fact, would not like knowing I am writing about him… but he has done some growing too. There have been times when he is completely migraine free and teasing me, and making plans for the future. It’s super hard on my emotions to watch the downs that go with the ups- hard on him too- but he is starting to enjoy learning things again and his deep moments can be very profound. I still get please’s and thank you’s and knuckle bumps, and even occasional hugs. So that is good. At the moment, we are both getting excited and determined about making him a private bedroom out of part of the garage- a place where he can start becoming a little bit more independent. So we’ll count this as a good moment too.
So- in the bigger, more eternal view that hindsight lets us glimpse- this has been a very good year, in spite of how it feels in the small moments, and the Lord sends me his comfort often. This romp thru’ the last year has been very good for me– I feel very peaceful and re-balanced. Yes- Hope is high today. I think I might even go do the dishes. Have a great day!!!