Sunday, October 19, 2014


I need advice. Preferably not theoretical advice, but legitimate, "what would you do" kind of advice.

I feel like up until this point, I've done pretty decent with this whole parenting thing. My kids are good people; they're respectful and well-behaved and follow directions pretty well in public. They eat a wide variety of vegetables and other foods, they don't ask for much in the way of toys. I figure that combination kind of means I'm doing something right, at least some of the time.

But as with all kids, as they get older, they go through phases and things change.  Right now, Anderson is going through changes.  He's done a complete 180; he's gone from not really wanting to engage strangers in conversations to talking their ears off. Now...please don't misunderstand. I'm glad he wants to talk to people, and that he's able to talk to communicate and all of that. But, it can be a bit...awkward. And I don't know what to do about it.

Case in point: our weekly mall excursion.  Yesterday, we went to the mall to do our chickensticks/elevator/escalator/Hollister combo. I've posted about it before, but Anderson loves to watch elevator videos. He has a favorite guy that we watch--interestingly enough, he's also on the spectrum. Like a lot of ASD kids, he watches the same videos over and over and he "echoes" them when he's playing elevators. Including when we are in public. At the mall. On busy weekends.  Saturday, we were waiting to ride the Macy's elevator.  Of course, as soon as we get there, five other people get in line to ride, too. We all get on what is one of the world's slowest elevators, and Anderson starts being Dieselducy.  He's saying all kinds of what can only be described as jibberish to the non-elevator educated.  Talking about fixtures and indicators and Dovers, pointing to things. The kids on the elevator look at Anderson, then at their mom, who is smiling but clearly befuddled. I let the family off first, and we follow--and I see the oldest girl in the family ask her mom what Anderson was doing. She wasn't rude; she was completely curious, and I don't blame her. It's definitely not something you see every day.

So this is where my question comes in. What would do you do? I am COMPLETELY comfortable with Anderson and his quirks, but I want everyone around us to be comfortable, too. In instances like those, do I tell people that he's on the spectrum--do I explain that he's imitating his favorite elevator videographer? Do I do what I've done up until this point and say nothing? Like I said, it doesn't bother ME, but I kind of feel this need for other people to "get it"--get what he's doing. I don't know...just something I've been thinking about. What would you do?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Do I?

Anderson has been in speech therapy for four years now.  During that time, he has made tremendous progress with communication. We went from goals like "using multi-word phrases", to "speaking in sentences of five or more words", to "initiating conversation" to "answering w questions".  You mention the word "autism", and most people's first thought is non-verbal, or slightly verbal.  They're taken aback by Anderson, because he is definitely very, very verbal.  In fact he doesn't really stop talking, which is problematic during things like, oh, SCHOOL.  Or homework. Or trying to get to sleep. Or when you have a raging headache. Or after you've listened to it non-stop for two hours. You get the idea.

There are times, however, when his delay is evident. If you spend more than a few hours with him, it definitely rears its head. When he is frustrated, or when he needs something that requires more explanation than a simple sentence, it becomes obvious.  He is still echoing times when he has been in trouble--or now when someone else has been in trouble--if he feels like he has done something "bad", whether he has actually been naughty or not.  He echoes his current teacher, who says things like "I am very disappointed that you made a bad choice", or "You are disobeying me". Although I'm glad that he has an outlet for his feelings and emotions, it still hurts my mama heart that he can't just say "my feelings are really hurt", or, as Amelia loves to tell me, "I'm super angry right now!" (but that's another post altogether). I just wish things were easier for him sometimes.

Another area where he still has some work to do is his tendency to talk in questions.  He doesn't do it all of the time, but it still happens. I have to confess's really endearing. It's one of those little things I know that I'll miss, when he stops.  One of my favorite ways that he does this is that he asks you the question that he wants YOU to ask HIM. So, instead of saying "I'm hungry!", he might say "Mom, am I hungry?"  I'll of course ask him if he's hungry, and he says yes. Another popular one is "Do I want to play outside?"  Again--the answer is yes.

A few weeks ago, the kids were in a wedding.  It was a very long day for them, and they did an AMAZING job (and it didn't hurt that the bride thought of everything in terms of thinking of how to keep the kids entertained, and I mean everything!!).  Anderson has really come out of his shell in terms of warming up to people he doesn't know, and he loved the attention he got that day--and believe me, he commanded attention in many ways.  During the reception, after rocking the dance floor, eating cake and cookies and all kinds of other goodies, and running around opening and closing doors for the wait-staff (yes, that happened), he sat at the table, long after his bedtime, with sleepy eyes. He was in the kind of daze that can only be caused by hard play and sugar. He looked right at me and said, with the most contented smile, "Mom? Did I have so much fun at the wedding?" I kissed his sweet, sweaty head and told him yes, he'd had a very good time at the wedding.

This afternoon, as we were riding home from school, he was telling me that he plans to play "Meadowthorpe" (the name of his school) when he goes to Nana and Papaw's this weekend.  Then, he thought for a minute and said, "Do I like elementary school?" Yes--the boy is in love with school. Something I most definitely did not expect, but I'm thrilled with, of course.  And then, after we got home and I was helping him out of the van, he looked at me and said "Mommy? Do I miss you?" And then, he hugged me.  He hugged me and put his head on my shoulder for a good five seconds. All without me begging, or grabbing him and forcing it. He hugged me, and he loves me, and he misses me when he is not with me. Sure, he can't say those things, but he said it all today. It's something I will remember forever.


My Public Service Announcement
I can't say enough about early intervention--if you're a new mama/mama to a toddler and you suspect your child may have a speech delay or any other kind of delay, I urge you to seek an evaluation through your area's early intervention service provider. Early intervention is KEY.