Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's Private

I came home from work yesterday and gave someone who will remain nameless a big hug hello. That nameless person was smelling a little off.

"Hey, your pits smell," I said.
Nameless: "Really?"
Me: "Yeah. You stink. I think you need deodorant."
Nameless: "That's awesome!!!!"
Me: "It means you are growing up and your body is starting to change."
Nameless: "You mean my sweat glands are starting to work?"
Me: "Umm....okay. You better go take a shower and I'll give you some deodorant that you can keep."
Nameless: "That's cool. Can I tell everyone at school I use deodorant?"
Me: "Well, no. that's not a good idea. It's kind of private. We don't usually announce that sort of thing to the public."
Nameless: "Oh. Okay. What about my brothers?"
Me: "Sure. They're okay."

Nameless was excited. In a way I am relieved. With medications you accept certain possible side effects. Nameless seems to be on schedule in this part of the growth cycle.

We are not posting any names. This is private stuff.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Better Day

You have a bad day. You dread the next one. It works out alright. You breath a huge sigh of relief.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Straight Talk is Not Always Easy

Jared's day did not end well at school.

One of his classmates decided it would be fun to tease Jared. I don't know all the details and I don't know how many other boys, if any, were involved. The result was that Jared got very upset and overwhelmed and yelled at this boy.

He was supposed to do his timekeeper job today after school for a basketball game, but the school called to say that he didn't want to do that anymore because of this incident and I went to pick him up early.

I found him in the office with one of the teachers. He started to tell me what happened with tears welling in his eyes.

On the drive home Jared asked me what it was that his "challenge" was called again. He can't remember names like autism or PDD-NOS. Then he asked, "Mom, did you know when I was a baby that I was special and great?" I couldn't even speak. I was so choked up. I was driving a minivan, my son had just asked me one of those questions that almost kill you, and I was trying not to cause a traffic accident through my tears. I asked him to clarify "special" and he defined it as his unique challenges. I told him I did not know how special he was as a baby but I aways knew he was great.

He recovered once he got home. I think he just really needed a change of environment. It was one of those days when I wished I could just take all this away from him. I worry that when these things happen, though he talks about it, there are still parts of it that he internalizes or can't verbalize.

Sometimes I really want to hide him and keep him safe. We don't want to see our kids get hurt. But it's not realistic or right or fair. Still..........

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cubs and Singing

Jared and the Cubs Program do not always get along. Sure, Cubs is great. Cubs is welcoming. Cubs is a fun time. Cubs can be overload sometimes.

Lots of little rambunctious boys plus no one to keep both eyes on Jared makes some Cubs evenings an exercise in futility.

I don't blame anyone for that. Jared needs special attention and he can go stretches where he does great. Then they play a game and Jared gets frustrated and he freaks out and if someone is in the wrong place at the wrong moment they might get hurt.

This happens rarely, but it has a couple of times. So I asked and begged for an assistant just for him. On Tuesday Jared will meet him. I've talked to him about what to expect. I've talked to the assistant about what to expect. I've prepared a bio of Jared filled with all sorts of interesting tidbits and deep dark secrets (well not really on that last part) to thoroughly scare this guy to death. I added triggers to look for and strategies to help and now I am going to pray this all works so I don't have to "ban" Jared for a few weeks from Cubs and he can have a smooth remainder of the year.

Jared decided that it was too embarrassing for his mommy to be there with him. I can respect that. He's also the oldest cub and with his tendency to act as mature as the least mature child present tends to make him look a tad awkward to everyone else. He does the best he can, but hey, don't they all.

Jared has also started singing in our church choir. Since I am the director, I decided to drag him along. He's doing well now that we've eliminated the Jonas Brothers singing style and full blast singing voice. He's got a beautiful voice and over the last couple of weeks people have approached me to tell me so. He seems to really enjoy it so I'm determined to take full advantage while I can. A bass playing singer. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Friendships

Jared is like many (perhaps most) folks with an ASD when it comes to creating and maintaining friendships. Very often there is a crash and burn component to the formula and it is always a work in progress.

One way Jared is slightly off the ASD norm is that he is extremely social. He wants friends. He really cares that he does not have many or any at all. He often feels isolated, but he goes out there and keeps trying. He doesn't close himself off and spend time on his own. He's out there. He's working the formula and he crashes and burns a lot.

When Jared chooses friends, those "choices" don't always realize they have been picked and of course don't always want to be the chosen ones. As Jared and these chosen ones get older, the more hurtful it is becoming. Jared picks boys who seem very strong and confident. I get concerned because they also seem to be the ones who treat him the worst.

A few months back, Jared was having issues with a boy who was in general terms a bully. He was not nice to Jared and indeed I was having concerns for his personal safety. Interestingly, Jared still called this boy his friend. I finally told him that friends don't say bad things, take things away, threaten others, and be disrespectful. That had never occurred to him.

On the flip side, the other day Jared was having problems and getting rather upset. Some girls came over and helped him settle and calm down. He complained to his teacher that he had no friends. His teacher pointed out these girls who had helped him and that they were friends. Jared's reply to that was, "But they are girls."

One of the things we as a family are learning, is that some people for Jared are a means to an end. What I mean by that is he knows he needs and wants friendships, but instead of cultivating those relationships and seeing if they lead to friendship he picks people to fill the slots. They are in essence objects that serve the purpose of filling the friendship pool.

He does have connected relationships with some people - his family, his teachers at school from this year and last. Friendship is still a bit of undiscovered territory. He's still filling the slots.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Learning to Dance

It's been a long time since I danced. Before marriage I danced a fair bit. So did my husband. After we married....not so much. I guess we didn't have as much opportunity and we got our guy/gal.

Now fast forward almost 15 years. James is now going to church youth dances and this has set off a new dynamic in the household.

Last night while he was partying it up at a New Years dance, Jared spent a portion of the night talking about when he will be old enough to go to the dances and dance with girls. In my head I was thinking thank goodness we have 3 1/2 years to work on this.

Our elementary school held a family dance last year. Jared and Jackson took a stab at dancing. Jordan was too cool to dance. Jackson finally chickened out. But Jared......wow.......he was a spectacle. He took his dancing seriously. In a gym filled with over 300 people, he created a perimeter and danced like one of those kids off "So You Think You Can Dance" meeting Napoleon Dynamite. People were watching. He loved that. People kept their distance. He didn't notice that. He needed the room. There was a lot going on.

So last night we started talking about these future dances and dancing with girls. He showed me how he would dance with them.

Him: "How was that?"
Me: "Energetic."
Him: "Did you think that was awesome?"
Me: "Yes, and I think we will have to practice dancing before you start dancing with some girl."
Him: "Why?"
Me: "Well, dancing like that........you may knock her head off."
Him: "Oh. Can you teach me some moves?"

Sean found us some music to dance to and dance we did. Jackson showed us the fundamentals of the "robot" which I never knew he could do. Jordan looked at us like we were crazy. Sean just sat there in his chair, because. Jared and I started. I think I want to show him the scene in the movie Hitch where Will Smith is teaching Kevin James how to dance. Anyway, he was a model student and when he would suggest a move a girl would be more impressed with - his arms and legs swinging around "like this" - I would gently imply that she would need a helmet and body armor to survive - though not in those exact words.

Jared is such a social little boy. It serves him well and it bites him in the butt. It bites him mostly because he gets into situations that he has not been coached on and then things don't end well. I am actually really happy that he is already looking ahead with anticipation to a time when he will be socializing in a whole new way and that he is willing to prepare for it now.

It seems so often we are training and learning reactively. I like to be more proactive and so this was a lot of fun last night. We were doing important work and it was enjoyable at the same time.

He can dance in the privacy of his own home like a man with eight limbs. We all can.....and some of us do, not just Jared. But in 3 1/2 years I think we will have him ready so that safety gear will not be needed.