Some days are bad, especially if he is under the weather. Even the slightest sniffles can take him in a loop. He becomes more aggressive in his tone and demeanor, while lethargic trying to fight whatever sickness he brought home. He doesn’t know how to blow his nose so the congestion really gets to him. Some days ending with 5 nosebleeds from all the nose rubbing. Although he does have Autism, he still is a typical “kid”. One that knows how to get away with things cause we’re his parents.
He loves his toy trucks, well anything with an engine, if there are no engine noises. The built-in sounds that come in cars, tractors, trucks, etc. yes, those will set him off. His aunts and uncles gifted him one of those drivable power wheel tractors and we’ve had to uninstall the battery. He knows all the names to farm and construction vehicles. I’m pretty sure his first word was “excavator”. Just don’t touch his toys, even if to move it out of the way.
He loves the outdoors and would stay outside all day if we let him, the only downfall, the Midwest only gets about good weather 4 months out of the year. He loves going to the farm, where the real tractors are. His grandparents have been farming ginseng for the last 35 years, they’ve practically raised all their children out there and now they take him. It’s his favorite place, but now he’s able to request this verbally, usually shouting at dad,
“Farm? I want FARM! Can I have FARM?”
He loves animals, but only if they’re the cartoon on his screen or from a book. He can hang-out with real chickens all day though, chasing them as they were playing a game.
The Keys for Him
- Structure and Routine – Monday through Fridays, wake up, breakfast, school, home, lunch, therapy. After therapy, dinner then maybe a walk or watching his favorite YouTube Channel, Blippi, bath and then bed. Weekends are hard not having this schedule, but at least therapy still takes place on Saturdays.
- Support – Please get support! Never turn down help if you’re comfortable. If you have a spouse, it is incredibly important to support each other and communicate. It gets overwhelming, know when to step in and give your spouse a breather. Know how to show and teach each other the skills to help your child grow. Most days, my husband or I take this on by ourselves each day unless we are lucky enough for our schedule align and we’re both off work that day. Respite care, even if just for 30 minutes to run to the grocery store to buy a drink. My son can feel my tension and this time away helps relieves my stress. I do it for him, even though every second I’m gone I am thinking about getting back to him.
- Consistency – As routine and structure as you try to be, it will always change, but be consistent. Be consistent at what you’re trying to achieve. 30 minutes waiting for your child to take a bite of his meal may seem forever but stay with the task at hand. Sometimes we wait 30 seconds before telling him again for it to register. He moves when he wants to. Be “there” consistently, train yourself consistently, and prepare for anything consistently.
Most Days Are Hard
He doesn’t have many words yet to tell us what he wants or how he’s feeling which leads to frustration and self-harm. Today he asked for sunscreen and I don’t know why or what that meant, but he wasn’t happy about it. The last few days, he learned to hit himself in the head with his open hand. I don’t know where he picks up these habits but ignoring it is hard. He knows attention is given when he harms himself so he will do it. Even after he stops, I still don’t understand what he is asking for, but at least the hitting stops.
Everyday Miracles Happen
No matter how hard it gets every day, he does something to remind me that we are human. We should accept that he can learn too, just differently. He lines up his toys neatly in a row. He knows every letter, every shape, every number. He can memorize a whole book. He can transcribe and act out an entire movie (He loves all the Minions movies). He recalls all driving directions to get to places. For example, if we turn to go home, but wants us to keep straight towards the farm, he will let us know! Take him on a walking route once and he remembers the path the next day. He loves sight-seeing and calls out every vehicle he sees on the way. Tractor, backhoe, school bus! He can label all the object he knows, we’ve had to stop at “no parking” signs just so he can look up at them and confirm. He is starting to know more people by name. He knows his first name, last name, age, address and birthday. He is my miracle every day.
For kid-friendly educational videos, check out Blippi on YouTube. My son learned all construction and tractor vehicles watching Blippi. He has a video on emotions that has helped my son to recognize facial expressions.
He knows when Mommy is mad and will ask,
“Are you happy?”
To cheer me up.