A chair is still a chair.

I remember there was a point when DC was much younger that I realized that because of his autism I was coddling him a bit and doing things for him that he was really able to learn to do himself.

I did understand that he had to be taught just about everything and was not going to just learn things the way other children did.

One of the extreme examples I used (and still do use at times) to explain this to others was/is:

He might understand that this is a chair because I taught him that it is:

That does not mean that he understands that this is also a chair…

He did not just pick up knowledge, he had to be taught just about everything.

 

One day I realized, after asking him to put something on the counter, that he did not know what the counter was. It was there. He saw it every day, but it did not have a name. The sink did not have a name, neither did the refrigerator or the microwave. He used the counter and the sink every day, but he did not have a word for them. When I told him to wash his hands, I may not have called the place where he washed his hands the sink each time. When I told him to get his cup, he knew where his cup was but again, I may not have said “from the counter” every single time. He knew where to wash his hands and get his cup so the thing he was concentrating on was washing his hands or getting his cup, not on the other words in the sentence.  I did not TEACH him the words and he was not going to just pick it up from the conversation.

A bit of a rude awakening for me….

As much as I thought I was teaching him all day, every day and naming things all day, every day, because I did quite a lot of things for him, specifically in the cleaning up after one’s self department,  I missed all this.

Of course, we began right there and then to go through the entire kitchen.

When he went to his Dad’s I asked him to do the same because again, just because it is a counter or a sink in my house does not mean he will know it is a counter or a sink elsewhere.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago when DC had an appointment with his neurologist. He does not happen to like this doctor at all and as little as we have to do when we go there (weight, blood pressure and questions), he gets anxious beforehand.

To help alleviate his anxiety, we were going to the diner with the giant pancakes because we went there the morning of his last appointment and as we all know, if we do something once, it IS tradition.

I had only been to this particular place once and we were with my mother at the time (but…. Tradition) so I was not sure of what side street to turn off the main road we were on.

I looked up the address and asked DC, who loves to help direct me to where we are going by saying “Left” “Right” “Turn” or “Ooops, we took a wrong turn” when I miss it – to look for ‘Fairway Street’.

Now I know he knows what signs are – he reads quite a few of them, but I realized that even after all of the practicing we have done for what to do if he got lost (to call either me or 911 and read the signs around him – the signs being ANY signs – Stores, Road, ANYTHING that could tell me where he was) he did not know specifically what a street sign was.

Me being me, now convinced that I am just a complete failure HAD to teach him right then and there! He had to learn the difference between street signs and other signs and he had to learn it right away.

I started pointing at every street sign we saw. “What does that say?”.

DC who just can not almost ever, follow where anyone is pointing, was looking in every direction but where the sign was. I realized that I had stopped dead in the middle of the road while trying to make him see the sign, so I continued on without him ever finding the sign I was pointing at.

Now the pointing thing has always been an issue. He just cannot seem to follow a pointing finger to whatever anyone might be pointing at (except if he is the one pointing something out, like a bookstore). Every once in a while he will get it but when that happens I suspect that he has already spotted what I am pointing at. I have tried hand over hand pointing. I have tried just pointing with his hand. I have tried putting my hand right up against his face so he can follow my finger and many other things over the years. Pointing out something to him is always just hit or miss.

I tried again at the next street sign; stopping in the road and getting frustrated that he could not spot the sign I was pointing at before I had to go to let the traffic behind me continue on. I did this a few more times before we got to the diner. I was frustrated and he was getting very frustrated.

There was a street sign across the street so I had him read that one and explained that it was the name of that street. If there were two signs, it meant one was the name of the side street and the other was the name of the street we were on.

I knew that it was all too much information but I could not let it go.

We did this all the way home.  It was hard because some signs were on telephone poles and others on metal poles. Some had more than one sign, like the one at the diner, and it was really difficult trying to explain all of this while driving.

Level of frustration: HIGH (for both of us)

He was finally able to pick out a couple though; mostly in places where there was not much traffic and I could stop without worrying about rushing him.

Moving on,  I asked him the name of the street we live on…. Even though he knows his address, he did not know the answer to that question. I do not think that he understood that an address IS the name of the street. Maybe if we lived on Blank Street, it would have clicked with him earlier on, but we live on Blank Road and our last address was Blank Ave.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of street signs in our neighborhood to point out when I walk him around, but I have been pointing them out where ever I see them.

My next step is to try using google street view so he can take as long as he needs to find the signs without people beeping and swearing at me in traffic.

I am sure they can come up with plenty of other reasons to beep and swear at me on the road….

Much like it taking 3 years of Special Olympics swimming to realize that he did not know that he could open his eyes with the goggles on, I am wondering how the heck I missed this.

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Red Balloons and a Happy ‘Co-lation’

The red balloons are all over town today. The red balloons that DC loves to much….

It must be close to ‘Co-lation’ (Graduation) Day at the high school….

From June 2015:

We may never pass this way again – Happy ‘Co-lation’


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It’s that time of year when the red balloons decorate mailboxes all over town, indicating a member of that family is ‘Co-lating’ (DC-speak = Graduating) from the high school this week. Every year when I start to see these balloons, I remember DC’s ‘co-lation’ and his balloons.

DC always noticed these balloons around town and I always told him that when it was time for him to graduate, he would find balloons of his own on our mailbox. I think this was one of the big things he was looking forward to when ‘Co-lation’ came around for him.

Somewhere close to the end of the school year, among all of the other “senior-specific” notices that came home was the balloon order. We order them ahead of time, in any amount we wish. Knowing how much DC was looking forward to these balloons, I tried not to get carried away (because that is what I do) with an order of 12 – I decided to go with the norm – 3 or 4. DC’s friend *Candi had been moved up a year so that she could walk at ‘Co-lation’ with the friends she had gone to school with all of her life and move on to the transition program at the college with them. Due to the crack record-keeping skills at the High School, Candi’s mother *Coach, never received any of these senior notices including the balloon order form.

(I continued to receive a report card at the end of every semester for a full two years after DC left the high school. Yes, the transition program was part of the public school system but these report cards came complete with glowing reports from teachers he no longer had, about subjects he hadn’t taken since he left the high school. Not to worry, *Coach did receive all of the “senior” notices, including the balloon order form the following year when *Candi was also no longer at the high school.)

The delivery of said balloons took place during the school day so that the balloons were there on the mailboxes when the students arrived home. *Coach actually found one of the balloon delivery people on the road and stopped her to ask if they had even one extra that she could purchase for *Candi. The woman making the deliveries told her that due to the high winds that day, many of the balloons had popped or deflated and she barely had enough to make her deliveries.

I do not remember why I was home early from work that day, I am guessing it was for a dental appointment because I seem to spend my life at the dentist, but I came home to a bunch of deflated balloons on the mailbox. Fortunately I had a little bit of time before DC arrived home so I ran around town trying to find a few replacement balloons so there would at least be something on the mailbox when he came home. There was no way he would miss seeing all of the other balloons on his way home and if he did, there were some in perfect condition right down the street that he definitely would not miss.

Red balloons were not to be found anywhere in town and graduation balloons in any color were in short supply. I didn’t have enough time to leave town and search elsewhere, so I had to settle for two blue graduation balloons. *Coach being out on the same hunt, also had to settle for blue.

I got them home in time and he had his balloons when he got off the bus. They were blue and I told him that he received a better color because he is just that special. He was happy. His friend *Candi had the same color, of course…….. because they are both very special people.

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Just an added throwback; this song was THE Graduation and/or Prom song when I was a kid. Although it did come out right around the time of my 8th grade graduation, it wasn’t mine but it always comes to mind when I think about a graduation:

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Update: 6/20/15 – After reading this post, my friend *Coach reminded me how the rest of Graduation Day went….

My car broke down bringing DC to rehearsal in the morning (my car also broke down the morning of his middle school graduation and I had a flat tire the day of his elementary school graduation) – *Coach lost her front tooth, so she was determined to go the remainder of the day – rehearsal, the ceremony and the after party without talking or smiling. That made for great Graduation pics!