Thursday, June 6, 2013

What I'm Learning About My Kids.

I'm quickly discovering that this summer is going to be much better than past summers with the kids. They're at an age where I can negotiate with them and they can (usually) understand logic enough to avoid major temper tantrums. I'm also rediscovering how freaking cool my kids are (what a grammatically bad sentence..). They are just really, really neat kids. And I'm not biased or anything. 

That said, I'm learning new things about my kids daily. Here are some of the highlights:

I'm learning that Amelia is a follower.  Everything her brother wants, she wants. Everything he does, she does. Everything I do, she does. Everything I eat, she wants to eat, and on and on. Today I praised Anderson to the high heavens because he threw away a wrapper without being asked--guess who came strolling into the kitchen with something to throw away?  She definitely has her own ideas and thoughts, and she knows right from wrong and chooses not to participate in things that she perceives as bad (with the exception of drawing on the ENTIRE CAR), but I can see this girl giving in to peer pressure. In some ways, it's cute to see her imitating, but in some ways, it's a tiny bit disconcerting.

I'm learning that Anderson wants to play with other kids. He really, really wants it, you all. There are four little girls who live across the street from us.  They've been playing outside every day while we are out there (I wonder if their parents are teachers...), and Anderson is absolutely fascinated. He calls them "the friends"--a carry over from preschool, where all peers are 'friends'--and he is overly worried about their whereabouts at any given time.  They rode their bikes around the block, and he stood at the end of the yard yelling at them to come back.  I can tell he'd love to be a part of their group, but buddy has no clue how to talk to them, and trust me--they aren't interested in his games. Still, I love that he's at least interested. Hopefully someday. In the meantime, he's just a little stalker.

Standing watch over "the friends"

I'm also learning that Anderson says THE CRAZIEST things.  The stuff that comes out of his mouth--you guys, it's the stuff of legends.  I mean, it's already funny in the sense that he is always mixing up the pronouns and also sometimes talks about himself in the 3rd person, but when you add that to the content of what he's saying--insanity.  I guess I could be defensive about it, or feel bad that he struggles with "normal" conversations, but that's not my style. Instead, I choose to laugh with Marty over how freaking funny he is!  Let me just give you an example...these exact words just came out of his mouth when he woke up from his nap:

"The leg hurts...I have a boo-boo on my leg! It hurts by the penis (yes, we taught them the anatomically-correct body parts, and the difference between boys and girls--they take a bath together and discovered it themselves, we just did the explanation. Yes, he talks about them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.). It's going to stop hurting when I poop. When I poop, the boo-boo will be all better."

Ummm...WHAT??  No clue at all what he's getting at there.

He also makes us repeat crazy things (kind of typical of some kids with autism)--one of this favorites is "Say 'Rexy-Tofu', mom!"--and I have to say it, lest I hear that over and over and over. He also asks questions of us, knowing what he wants us to say as an answer. A common one involves his beloved Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies.  He calls the creme "icing", which is fair because it's pretty similar to icing.  So, every time he eats one, he will go up to either Marty or I and asked, "What's this?", pointing to that delicious white filling.  The correct response is "icing".  If you're in the middle of something, you answer correctly so that the whole conversation ends. If you're wanting to mess with him a little, just to see what he does, you say the wrong thing. Usually, he just asks incessantly until you give the correct answer.

His odd conversational patterns are kind of confusing to Amelia a lot of the time, which is not-so-great.  He goes into school scripting mode if he gets into trouble, or if I say anything to either kid that seems like they're doing something wrong.  He scripts the teachers and says things like, "Oh Amelia, you are in SO MUCH TROUBLE! Amelia! You do NOT do that!".  She comes running to me and says, "Mom! I'm not in trouble! Anderson says I'm in trouble!". I have no idea how to explain to her that he doesn't mean what he's saying in a way that she will get it.  Usually I just tell her that he doesn't mean it, not to listen to him. I don't want to start that habit, though. I read a blog post a few days ago that I cannot for the life of me find right now, and it was all about an older child with autism who cried to his mother that his siblings 'always ignore him'. The mom felt horrible because she perpetuated the ignoring--unintentionally, for sure--by doing just what I'm guilty of doing, because it is so much easier to tell Amelia to ignore him or not listen to him than explain WHY he's saying random things. When she is older, it will be easier. At least I hope so.

Just in:  while I was typing this, he came up to me with a stuffed snowman and told me it was his baby doll.  When I asked what his baby's name was, he told me--"Condition".  Where does he get it??

I'm learning that the kids really love each other, and love playing with each other.  Amelia completely tolerates Anderson's odd requests when they're playing together, and Anderson is learning how to engage Amelia in play.  They also have fantastic imaginations--Amelia turned an every-day string into a Super Hero cape. Anderson has turned an ordinary white mixing bowl into a "light bulb". They're just so creative--and I'm so glad.

I'm also learning to settle into Anderson's diagnosis. Not that I wasn't certain about it, but I know that other people are probably uncertain, especially when they first meet him, because he is just so verbal. Obviously, I realize that people can be very verbal and still have autism, but not everyone understands the intricacies of the condition like teachers or people who have autism in their families.  However, spending so much time with him makes me feel very, very comfortable with the diagnosis. Because he definitely has autism.  Definitely. His need for little routines and things that make him comfortable/uncomfortable...they're overwhelming sometimes.  Let me give you an example. Anderson has a very structured bedtime routine that he created himself.  His Daddy must read and rock with him, if he's home. He must sing his "Eyes are Watching" song and read a book to Daddy.  He will find his toys of choice for the night and get into bed, we will turn off the lights, and close the door. He will get out of bed about 10 seconds later and ask to go to the bathroom.  He'll use the bathroom, get back in bed.  He will, again, get out of bed 10 seconds later and ask for a cup of water, which we will bring to his bed. Then, he will stay in bed and go to sleep.  There is no varying from this.  A few days ago, he wanted to bring this junky little light-up seal to bed with him, which was fine...except he couldn't stand the texture of it.  He doesn't have many tactile sensory issues, and we are glad because when he does, he REALLY does.  He was crying, holding the thing by one of its fins, asking us to "cut the fuzz off". Marty was trying the hard core approach, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. He told Anderson that we couldn't cut the fuzz, that he would either take the seal, or he had to deal with the fuzz. Anderson laid down, holding the seal straight up in the air by one fin, and continued to cry.  There always comes a point where I just recognize that the situation is going to escalate and not resolve--and 9 times out of 10, either we can redirect him or he can calm himself, so really this does not happen often--and this was one of those. By this point, Anderson was wailing, "Get the scissors, mom! Get the scissors!"  So...I got the scissors. I tried as hard as possible to cut the fuzz off of the seal, while he watched. When I finished (and honestly, the fuzz is still there. It was impossible to remove...), and looked up into his watery, teary eyes, he smiled at me. He calmly went and got into bed, situation over.  If cutting a little fuzz off of a dollar bin toy is all it takes to make things right in his world, I'm going to be game every single time.

The seal, post hair-cut.
I learn and learn and learn from these two. Daily. And I'm overwhelmed by just how awesome they are, and how lucky I am.

Pictures of other summer fun:

Laughing at elevator videos while "snuggling" with mom.
My little Peeping Tom.
She LOVES sand. Like, really really loves it. Even homemade Pinterest sand.
I don't even know. Silliness.

1 comment:

  1. This is a totally different situation, but when I read about Ameila coming to you saying that Anderson says she is in trouble & you encourage her to "ignore" him. Or how she gets confused by his conversation. I though of my kids. My kids are at different levels of learning various things. Speech for example. Olivia is very articulate & if the boys pronounce something wrong she will correct them over & over & it causes fights. We have taken to telling her "Its ok, they are still learning. Some things you are still learning too. Mommy & daddy will help them learn." She finds it funny when we explain that she used to call herself "Yaya" & now we often hear her say "Thats ok, you're still learning to do _____"

    Maybe explaining it simply to her, "Ameilia just like you are still learning how to ______, Anderson is still learning how to talk as nice as you do." Or "Anderson is still learning what it means to be in trouble, you used to not know what it meant either, but you learned. Anderson will learn too, he just hasn't yet." Putting in the most simple of terms for her.

    Might not work for your kids or your situation, but I liked that we were addressing her concerns without making a big deal about it or just telling her to ignore them.