Christmas List Negotiations


DC has his list for Santa posted on the refrigerator:

Bandaids
18 Markers
White Paper
A Christmas Story Live DVD
Dolls

We are away for the Thanksgiving weekend. As always, on the day after Thanksgiving, we visit his favorite shops in the area.

In one shop, DC asked to buy markers. We have been trying to limit his sharpie shopping to the dollar store since he would and could buy 18 markers every week and that, along with his bandaid obsession gets expensive.
Since he was not having much luck finding a certain nutcracker book that he wanted, I told him that he could buy the markers. They were not your average sharpie, so they were a little pricey.

On the way to the register DC mentioned “Santa List”.
I was looking around wondering where he was seeing a Santa List.

Me: Where’s the Santa List?

DC: On the Re-fridge-a-later’

Me: Oh! The List at home?

DC: Yes, 18 markers.

So really, right here, I was not being sarcastic or kidding with him; I really thought he was telling me that we could take the 18 markers off of his list at home since he was buying them then. Which, I admit was not something I expected DC to say.

Me: Oh, so we can take the markers off of your Santa List at home?

DC: No! Buy markers and keep 18 markers from Santa on ‘re-fridge-a-later’ at home.

He was bargaining to get these new markers and keep the 18 markers on his list at home.

First it never occurred to me that he would even think that this one purchase would cancel out his Christmas list entry. I mean, he gets markers and some of the other items in his list on a regular basis throughout the year.

It was also different that he thought about MAKING SURE he would still receive the “list markers” if he bought the markers he had in his hand.

I laughed and told him it was fine. The lady at the counter laughed too.

Bargaining over – he bought his markers.

Later that day, we stopped quickly at a Dollar store.
Every trip to the Dollar store in DC’s mind, means markers and bandaids.
He bought one red sharpie and two boxes of bandaids. There was no questioning his list and he was not worried about bandaids being removed from said  list.

Jokingly due to the marker negotiations earlier I asked:

“Does this mean we will change the markers on your list from 18 to 17?”

DC: Yes!

????

I told him I was just joking but he stuck to his deal.

Since buying the one red sharpie, whenever he mentions his Christmas list and the items on that list (which is often), he lists 17 markers instead of 18.

Was the negotiation all about the fact that the package of markers he wanted were not actual “sharpies” and he wanted to be sure that he would still receive 18 sharpies?

I don’t know.

But it IS new that he understood a negotiation.

There are time when I do negotiate with him or try to have him make a choice:

“You can order dessert but you can’t have a snack on top of that when you get home”

He says okay and then seems shocked when I say “no” to a snack when he asks for one later.

Maybe this means he is beginning to “get” making choices other than what color shirt he wants to wear or something like that?

We’ll see if this is the case the next time he has to choose between dessert and a snack.

Just for the record… I am sure that the sharpies he wants come in a package of 18.

Just like when he begs to get “just one” sharpie in the grocery store when he knows that the particular store we shop in does not carry single sharpies. He knows he will end up with at least a three-pack.

He knows what he’s doing…

***

Edited to add: After writing this post (on my phone, so pardon the typos), we went to ride the Santa Train, where DC writes (another version) and mails his list to Santa.

He wrote 17 markers.

The very first thing he did when we arrived home from our weekend away was to edit his “refrigerator list from 18 to 17 markers.

The Many Meanings of “Sorry”

I wrote the post below six years ago. If I were keeping track, I would have to imagine that “Sorry” would most certainly show up in the top 5 on the list of DC’s most used words.

Some of the time, he IS sorry for something or another, but as I have said and written many time before, he really does not understand what “sorry” means. For him it is just something to say when he thinks he’s done something wrong, when he going to do something he shouldn’t and for many reasons that really don’t have anything to do with being sorry.

This morning, I, (“grace”) tripped over the coffee table, broke a coffee cup – spilling the contents on the way down and smacked my arm on said table hard enough so it was bleeding. DC told me he was sorry. In cases like this, I am never really sure if he thinks he has done something or is he reversing things and really thinks that I should say that I am sorry for falling over the table. Or… as a speech therapist once told me, is it his go-to word that he uses when he does not know what else to say?

I explained as I do every time he says he is sorry for no reason, that he did not do anything and there was nothing for him to be sorry about.

I have come to realize over the years that “I’m sorry” is not only used for the reasons above and in the post below. Sometimes he uses it as his way of telling me that something is bothering him….

The other morning his iPad broke, right before he was ready to leave for work.

I know you all just stopped breathing (as did I) in anticipation of the fallout.

Surprisingly, the fallout was minimal. He was upset but calm. For once, he did not apologize for something that was not his fault. He listened to me as I told him I would have to buy him a new one but he could use his phone or my “tablet” in the meantime.

He repeated all of that back to me a few (or more) times before he left. I, in turn had to verify all of what he was repeating and repeat it all again to him.

His transport arrived and he left.

Just like that.

My phone rang on my way to work. It was DC (Spontaneous phone use… Yay!).

I said “Hello” and the first thing he said was:

“I’m sorry”

I did not know what he was sorry for now. I thought that maybe he did something at work and he was now telling on himself – something he does often.

But, no. When I asked him what he was sorry about he said:

“No sorrys. Mom will buy new iPad.”

He was worried about the new iPad more than he let on before he left. It was bothering him. He wanted to talk about it again.

Saying “I’m sorry” is his way in to a conversation about something that is bothering him.

The iPad was bothering him,

He wanted to talk about it.

He called me (again, spontaneous phone use – I will take it)

“I’m sorry” helped him to start the conversation.

 

 

“Happy?” – “Sorry” – What’s next?

Yes, John Lithgow is "Happy"

Yes, John Lithgow is “Happy”

Years ago, DC and I were out doing errands. We had to have stopped at 3 or 4 different stores, which at the time was very difficult for him. By the time we got to the Health Food store, he was so out of control that the cashier saw fit to stop the line to try to educate me about just what vitamins, etc. I should be giving him to combat his ADD – (Holding up a line of customers to give me advice in front of all those customers, was just what I needed). I informed him that my son had autism, not ADD, but thank you very much!

On the way out, I said “I am not very happy today”. That one single comment led to years of DC asking everyone if they were happy. He did not have many “words” under his belt at the time, but he did manage to ask everyone he met if they were “Happy?” (Can you say “guilt”?)

* We have an autograph on a golf card from John Lithgow making it clear to DC, that yes, he is “happy” (see photo).

Eventually he stopped asking people if they were happy and the “Happy” question was replaced with “sorry”. I am sure this is my fault as well. Somewhere along the line I must have told him to say he was sorry for something and there it began.

He is sorry for absolutely everything! Partially because he believes an “I’m sorry” will get him out of anything.  He thinks that saying “I’m sorry” even when he doesn’t know what he is sorry about will get him out of anything or at least get me to stop talking. When he really wants to bring it home he will move on to: “I’m ‘ter-bly’  sorry” or “I am soooooo sorry”. He will even throw in a “Can you ever forgive me?” (movie line) when he really thinks it is necessary.

He says he is sorry, WHILE he’s doing something he shouldn’t, and will continue right on doing whatever it is because he is covered, he already said he was sorry. Or he will say he is sorry when he is about to do something he knows he shouldn’t. He is covered- he already said he was sorry!

He says he is sorry when he asks a question and the answer happens to be “no”. In his mind, “no” is a negative even when it is just an answer to a question. I have tried to explain all of this to him but as much as I try to simplify there are just some things he will never understand.

Don’t get the wrong impression; he is not upset or anxious when he says he is sorry. It is just a word to him. He does not constantly think he’s in trouble. It is just something for him to say….. over and over again.

A few days ago he somehow figured out from one of his books that the word “Sympathy” in a way means “sorry”. So on that day, DC was “in sympathy” for sneaking chips.

I think I might like that better.

 

Belts…. They Worked Until They Didn’t

I saw a post a while back from my friend over at Our Adventures with Riley  (the actual post can be found below) and thought what a great idea this would have been back when DC had such huge issues with wearing a belt. Not only did he just not like wearing them but he had a hard time buckling and unbuckling them.

Then there was the placement of the holes. They were never quite right, so years ago we moved on to cloth/canvas belts. Those seemed to work a bit better. No pesky holes to deal with.

He went a good long time using the cloth belts with no issues.

Then one day, he could not figure out how to put one on. He was trying to start from the side pants loop which meant when he was finished the buckle would be on his side instead of in front.

I don’t know what caused this confusion, but it continued. Every day he came and stood in front of me so I could see if he was starting his belt correctly. Sometimes he did and other times, not.

Along with the new processing issue of putting on the belt, he seemed overly obsessed with the belt being as tight as possible, which again was never an issue.

(He had lost some weight so I believe that all of this is related to the weight loss and his belts feeling different on him)

Because there were no holes and a D-ring instead of a buckle, they were loosening up after a few minutes and we now had the constant, all day adjustment of his belt – over and over again.

Soooo, we went back to the buckle belts. I found a few that had holes everywhere so it didn’t matter which hole he used.  He could wear it as tight or as loose as he wanted. He wasn’t limited by the placement of the holes.

Now that we had all of that squared away, he seemed fine and no longer had any issues with his belts. He was happy with his belts for so long of a while that when I saw the belt post from Riley’s page I did not think anything of it, other than it would have come in handy way back when we were having belt issues.

Speak too soon, much?

Recently he developed another issue.

The overlap.

The excess after his belt was buckled, HAD to either go only as far as the next belt loop or it had to reach the second belt loop. There was no in between. If it went out past the first loop he would pull his belt tighter and tighter until it reached the next loop.

And again, there was the constant, all day long adjustment of the belt. It got to the point that the adjustment of his belt was holding him up during every portion of his day.

I tried cutting a few so the excess was just long enough to reach the first belt loop, but I had to be precise in my measurements and some belts just can’t be cut.

I remembered and I went back and searched for Riley’s belt post and ordered a few.

It took a while to get the belt on him and it will take a while for him to be able to put them on himself because they are  different.  But I was more worried about the reaction of WEARING something different than I was in him learning to put it on.

When I got the belt adjusted and on, DC’s first word was “Amazing!”

That was a good sign.

He didn’t take it off and wore it the rest of the day.

Another good sign.

We are still working on him learning to put it on himself so at this moment in time, he alternates between the new “Buckle-less Belt” and the one that I was able to cut exactly to reach the first belt loop.

Progress.

Happy Halloween – Sing it with me… “It’s Raining Again”

 

DC does not like the rain.

He just does not.

When he was younger, it was just the rain he did not like but now, in his mind – rain leads to storms so there is no tolerating the rain at all any more.

I remember taking him to a birthday party when he was younger. One of the activities planned was a water balloon fight. Getting wet without a bathing suit on was always an issue, but we were instructed to wear bathing suits.  After a lot of explanation, I thought he’d be okay with it.

Unfortunately it was raining when we arrived.

It was summer. They were already in bathing suits.

So why not have the water balloon fight?

Why not, you ask?

You have to understand that to DC, rain means hurry to the car, or out of the car and into the house so you don’t get wet. Or hurry anywhere you are headed to or from so you don’t get wet. Run into the store, so you don’t get wet. Baseball is cancelled because it is raining. Cross country is cancelled because it’s raining. Outdoor activities are cancelled because it is raining.

So you don’t get wet…

Because it’s raining…

We don’t walk around in it and we certainly don’t go outside to play in it! There are no gray areas.

In case you were wondering….

It didn’t go over well.

This year we were expecting high winds and rain for Halloween (and we got both).

Now, I am not one of those people who think that Halloween should be cancelled and rescheduled when bad weather is predicted. This is strictly a “DC” issue and I was a little bit concerned.

I talked about it all week.

He looked nervous each time we discussed it but he still wanted to go Trick-Or-Treating. I told him not to worry, we will use umbrellas.

During the monsoon part of the afternoon on Halloween Day, I ran around town trying to find some of those clear plastic rain ponchos for him and his friends. (You NEVER wear coats or jackets over a costume! It’s a rule. Look it up.) But because I did not think ahead, there were none to be found any where.

Fortunately the rain calmed down and stopped for a little while when we were ready to go to *Candy’s house for dinner with her and *Sally before we all went out Trick-Or-Treating together.

They had their dinner and a few treats and off we went.

I had been poured on many times already that day when I was out looking for ponchos and earlier when I went out to look for an umbrella to match his costume (yes, I did) so I was over trying to stay dry at this point.

We were pretty lucky for the most part.

We had some rain.

We had some wind.

 

But fortunately not all at the same time.

DC went from “I’m getting very nervous about this” to (insert excited voice) “Happy Halloween! Thank you” and back many times over.

We did not visit as many houses as we usually do but they all came back with a good amount of candy, mostly from people trying to get rid of their overstock due to the smaller than usual weather-related turn out.

I would have been surprised if DC had opted to skip Halloween due to the weather, but one never knows when rain is involved.

It all worked out and the 3 of them had a great night.

(I think the 3 Mom’s had fun too)

In true DC fashion; when it’s over, it’s over.

In the car on the way home, he obsessed about changing the calendar to November and when he did:

“Mom, I’m so excited about Thanksgiving”

over and over.

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!

***

Our 2019 Costume “Parade/Wrap Up” can be found here.

 

 

2019 Halloween – Merlin from The Sword and the Stone

 

 

 

Cheerios and the Order in Which They Shall Be Eaten

 

DC was always a big fan of Cheerios. He eats them every day for breakfast and sometimes just as a snack.

His ‘weekday’ breakfast consists of dry Cheerios (no milk, ever), a banana (you knew that), an apple, a glass of orange juice and a glass of water.

Over the last few months or so, I noticed he was not finishing his Cheerios. He was handing back the bowl with only a few spoonfuls being eaten.

First I thought that he just decided he no longer liked Cheerios. It would not be the first time that he LOVED something for years and then just stopped eating it.

I got him a different, agreed upon cereal. He liked it but again started handing it back to me after only a few spoonfuls.

I started thinking that there was something wrong with one or more of his teeth and maybe it hurt to chew the cereal. He said “yes” and pointed to his tooth.

I took him to the dentist and they found nothing wrong.

Yes, I know! I asked a leading question and got the answer he thought he should give.  I should know better at this point.

Thinking that maybe he was just becoming impatient with the chewing and just wanted to finish and move on with his morning, or that because he had lost so much weight, he really wasn’t that hungry anymore – I started giving him much smaller portions.

He still handed it back to me after a few bites.

We alternated between the Cheerios that he still insisted that he loved and the Chex that he still said he liked, but he still handed it back to me.

Hmm.

Everyday after he finishes eating the food portion of his breakfast, he takes his juice and water to the other room and finishes it while using his iPad and writing his ‘princess papers’. This is what he has done every single morning for years.

I realized that I was partially correct with my ‘impatience’ assumption when one day I after he handed me his cereal bowl, I moved it to his ‘spot’ in the other room with his iPad and princess papers. He finished it while he was watching/writing.

The other day he handed me his cereal and said “I want to take a break”.

“I want to take a break” was new, usually he says “finished” when he gives me his bowl. I realized that the other issue was that he would not eat his apple or banana until he was finished with his cereal.

WE

EAT

ONE

THING

AT

A

TIME

I told him that it was okay to eat a little cereal and then have some fruit and then go back to the cereal.

He could even have some banana first! (GASP)

He thought that notion was just too hilarious to even consider and I must have been joking.

So I moved his cereal into the other room.

With that gone, he was able to eat his banana.

And with that gone, he moved onto his apple.

Bottom line; he thinks he has to finish one thing before he moves on to another. If he wants to move on to the other before whatever he chose to eat first is gone, it has to be removed from his sight (even if he does still want to finish it) until he has eaten whatever he wants to eat next.

He just can’t have it there in front of him.

And, so….

he ate the rest of his cereal in the other room.

****

Updated (before publishing): Although DC seemed to brush off the talk we had the morning before and ate his cereal in the other room – it must have sunk in later on.

The following morning he showed me his bowl and said:

“I want to take a break”

Me: “Okay”

Instead of handing it to me to remove from his sight, he put the bowl down in front of him and started on his banana!!!!

It did not have to be removed and he went back to it later!

He still announced it as if he needed permission, but he moved on.

Progress!

 

Everything is Related: Star Trek and Geppetto

As you may or may not know, DC, Doug and I are going on a Star Trek Cruise in March.

To make most trips more interesting for DC, I always try to come up with something that he likes and relate it to the thing we are going to do.

(See: The Everything is Related Series)

Now, DC is my child so OF COURSE he knows Star Trek. One of the first signs he learned when he was younger and before he was verbal was the “Live Long and Prosper” sign. He did not understand “Live Long and Prosper” but it was his sign for Mr. Spock.

But still I have tried to find things relate-able to Disney or other movies and characters that he loves just to be sure he is excited.

Other than “the Captain who shall not be named”; who will be there, he does have an affection for, to put it mildly, Nana Visitor strictly from Deep Space 9, no relating necessary in that case.

He loves Levar Burton from Reading Rainbow, but unfortunately, he will not be in attendance.

Whoopie Goldberg, who will not be in attendance is relate-able for DC from Sister Act, the Cheshire Cat in some version of Alice in Wonderland  and a YouTube clip from the View where she is introducing the cast of Shrek the Musical (to the person who posted that clip; you are welcome for the thousands of views).

He has met Robert Picardo more than once so he is definitely recognizable to DC.

Now, he does of course, recognize all of these characters just from all of the series’ playing on our television most of the time. He can tell me which series we are watching and he does know some of the character names. I do always point out which characters will be on the ship when they show up on screen.

I am not worried he will not have a good time.

But…. relating someone to some other character that he knows always brings it over the top for him and I wasn’t having much luck in that area.

Last night we happened to be watching an episode of TNG.

The beginning credits were running. I was not really paying attention when DC said:

Brent Spiner. Not Stromboli in “The Wonderful World of Disney’s Geppetto” (we must always recite the entire title of any movie, book or television series)

When DC tells me that someone is NOT a character, what he is actually telling me is that the actor IS the character; in this case “Stromboli” in the movie he just mentioned but he is not playing that character in this movie or television series we are watching at the time.

DC has been watching his Geppetto DVD … um, excuse me: “The Wonderful World of Disney’s Geppetto” for many years. I had never seen it, but I looked it up and he was correct!

Apparently, DC had not ever recognized him as Data, but he did recognize his name in the credits, because he does know the name of every person that has played or lent their voice to any Disney character.

– But you know that all ready.

Once again, DC did the work for me.

I will have to have him watch more of the credits on the other series. Maybe he can pick out a few more people that he knows.

Suggestions are always welcome.

 

 

Write? Why?

I have been badly neglecting this blog lately so I thought I would post a “refresher” for those who may be new here and to my Facebook page.

Why do I write?

I never really intended to write a blog. My blogging began one day when I was writing an extremely long response to a blog post that I had just finished reading. After I hit “post” I decided that writing a response to this post on someone else’s blog was not going to make me feel better about the topic being discussed. I opened an account, copied and pasted that very long comment, on to a page and started my blog.

I was so worried that I would never have enough to say to sustain a blog, but I went for it anyway. It turns out that I did have a lot to say. I don’t know how many people care to hear what I have to say, but I say it anyway.

“I tell stories, most of the time; single individual stories about this or that. Some may be written with humor and some may come across as “Oh, look at the cute thing DC did or said” (he does crack me up at times) but my object is always to make people understand how his mind works.”

It is difficult to explain “his” autism to anyone without resorting to 1000 examples and 1000 stories. So I tell 1000 stories to make clear that there are other sides to autism than the characters seen in TV or movies.

I read many blogs as well. Many of the blogs that I do come across are written by parents of younger children. Most are wonderful and very informative. There are many that I absolutely love, but I always feel that the parents of adult children do not have an equal voice in this community. We are cast aside, or worse, berated. I am not in any way saying my blog is the voice of parents with adult children, but I am ONE voice and ONE opinion in a sea of blogs and opinions that do not seem to make room for the parents that have been at it  for many years now.

I was very tired of being preached at and constantly being told how to feel by those who have not reached this point in their child’s life. I understand where they are coming from and in turn I believe they can or should try to understand where I am coming from. Whatever else you might have to say about me, I  have done a good job of raising DC.  Of course there was help along the way but as a single mother going on 26 years now, most of it fell to me alone.  I truly resent the fact that we, as parents are being made to feel as if after all these years,  we’ve got it all wrong. I know that there are instances where we did have it wrong. When DC was young, there was not any where near the information and services that are available today. (See: Autism In the Old Days

I hope that a little insight into what comes after “school age” may go a long way in getting people to stop and think before making blanket decisions, accusations and statements that may not affect their child the same way it will affect mine. There has got to be some give and take. Everything does not work for every one.

Having said that, I have learned quite a bit from other parents by virtue of my blog. I don’t always agree with every opinion and my readers, I’m sure, do not always agree with me, but I truly believe writing this blog and getting some of the feedback has helped me see some issues a bit differently or at least why some parents see things the way they do. I can only hope I can and will be afforded the same courtesy; and so far I have.

Life tends to be very different when your child “ages out” of the school system and at other times, it is exactly the same. When you are waist deep in school, therapies, programs and IEPs, what happens after 21 is not high on your priority list. Of course it is a priority and of course it is in the back of your mind but, the here and now takes precedence. There are so many new and different issues to consider, and it all comes to hit you in the face much faster than you expect. Your views and opinions can change dramatically from what you hoped for when they were young and what you hope for now. Your life changes drastically, while not changing at all.

In an earlier blog I wrote:

“If I were to live forever, I would not change a thing about my son. He’s happy almost all of the time. He loves his life. He is in his own little happy world, but he won’t always be able to live in his own world, he will someday have to live in the real world. Then what?”

He will, someday have to live in the real world without me, which will probably mean a group home, because he is going to out life all of the adults I have in place to take care of him when I am gone. We need better programs, more funding for those programs and we need to have trained people working with our children in those programs. The news reports of the abuse and neglect of adults and children with autism by the people who are paid and supposed to be supporting our kids will keep you awake all night, every night.

So I will keep writing with the hope that a few people might read and think a little bit about the future. I would never say that spreading awareness is not a good idea, it IS definitely necessary, but…..

all of the awareness in the world is not going to keep DC safe and happy when I am no longer here to protect him…..

**********

EUReKA with a “sprinkling” of Autism

I normally do not cross-post from our EUReKA site but this episode of the podcast was certainly autism-heavy so I decided to post it here as well.

I have always loved the SyFy Channel original series, EUReKA (obviously) and as I said during our first episode, this would not be a podcast about autism, but…. I was never happy about the way autism was portrayed or treated in the series and when the subject did come up during an episode, we would be talking about it.

(Spoilers)

They introduced an autistic character (a savant) to use for a specific plot line. After that plot line was over, they completely ignored the character to the point where we did not even see him for an entire season. When the character’s mother gave birth to another child and they could no longer ignore the fact that she had another child…. BOOM; they changed the timeline and Kevin was no longer autistic (and never was in the new timeline).

Disappointing to say the least.

So… if you are a EUReKA fan, or a EUReKA fan with autism in your life; give it a listen….

 

 

S4-E2  A New World – Part 1

We went long on this episode due to the poor treatment of autism and a bit of time-travel confusion; so please join Dud Gramley and Vickie to discuss the first half of Season 4, Episode 2,  A New World (part 2 will be published next week)

“The gang returns from 1947 and discover that things are not as they remember them. And Dr. Grant came along.” – IMDB Synopsis

If you are a first time watcher, we suggest that you watch the episode BEFORE listening to this pod cast.

 

To Listen and/or for the links to items discussed in this episode, continue on to: Yeah, That Can’t Be Good – A Eureka Rewatch Podcast

If You “Don’t Mind”

I came across a meme a few weeks ago. I do not even remember where I saw it, but I did see it more than once.

It read (paraphrasing):

Please share if you don’t mind having a LGBTQ+ person in your family….

If you don’t mind

If you don’t mind?

I imagine all were posted by people who thought they were being… oh so supportive.

If you don’t mind???????

Let’s look at this from a different angle, shall we?

How supportive would you appear to be if you shared a meme that read:

Please share if you don’t mind having an autistic individual in your family

or

Please share if you don’t mind having a disabled individual in your family

Please share if you don’t mind having an overweight individual in your family

A person dealing with mental health issues –

A person of color –

A red head, a blonde…..

Insert any adjective used to describe a person or group and you can and should be able to  see that “not minding” is not only insulting but not very inclusive.

If you want to be supportive of this or any community, then be supportive.

Support is not holding yourself up as better than the person or community you are trying to support – or should I say; that you don’t mind supporting.

If you cannot be supportive without marginalizing a community, or giving back-handed “support” then please just don’t say anything at all..

Believe me – most of us doing the reading won’t mind.

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Things That Aren’t So Little

I know I have said in one post or another that there is always progress. Maybe not the progress he made when he was younger, but there is always something. It may be just a little thing but it is always cause for celebration.

Here is one:

Yesterday, DC attended his Camp Spring Picnic. He loves camp – you have heard that before if you have been around here long enough. Even though this is something he WANTS to do and even though he was so excited about it that I had to hear about it every hour it seemed, all week – there is still that “Arrival Anxiety” when he first arrives.

He did not skip that step yesterday.

You may have also read about DC’s phone skills or lack there of at times. DC can use the phone. He will call anyone THAT HE IS TOLD TO. He calls me every day when he is leaving his program (because he is supposed to) and the conversation rarely veers from the script he uses.

He will not use the phone spontaneously. This is something I really want him to understand. I want him to think to call me if something is wrong or if he happens to get lost or for any reason at all. I want it to occur to him if something goes wrong, that he should use his phone. I really am not sure that it would occur to him. I’ve gone over this many times, but as many times as he says he understands, I don’t think he does. He has never called anybody spontaneously, he has just about never asked to call anyone. After all this time, he still only uses the telephone when he is told to, to call me from his transportation and to call me when he gets home.

The Camp is closed up for the winter so the water was just turned back on in time for the picnic. Apparently something happened between the turning on of the water and the day of the picnic because when we arrived, the director was waiting for the repair man to come. There was no water. Not a big deal. There was bottled water to drink. There was also a BIG bottle of hand-sanitizer on the counter for hand washing purposes.

But….

I had to explain all of this to DC ahead of time. I did not want him to find out when he went to wash his hands in the restroom. I am sure his reaction would have been worse if he found out on his own, but the news did not go over as smoothly as I had hoped. He just wasn’t having it. The anxiety he was already having shot up a few notches.

He did not need water at the time and probably would not need water until he used the restroom, but just knowing that there was supposed to be water coming out of the faucets and it was not there was too much for him.

Something is supposed to be there and it is not – even if he doesn’t need it; it bothers him and he cannot shake it.

I took him outside so he could do whatever he had to do – flap, stim, run, yell – whatever he needed to do to calm down. He did all of “the above” and few more just for good measure but it did not seem to be helping. When he got back inside he started running to the faucets and turning them on. He went to the hand-santizer and used it – then he used it again – and again – and again. He was fixating on the hand-sanitzer because there was no water.

Finally he calmed down enough so I could leave to go for coffee with *Tonya, *Salli’s Mom.

You know… coffee without someone yelling “Mom, Mom! Excuse me, Mom!” throughout our conversation? Yeah, that.

Tonya was outside speaking with another parent, so we did not leave immediately after I left him in the Arts and Crafts building. At some point, he must have noticed that I was still outside and decided to come charging out to the driveway.

I understand that he was upset. I understand that he wanted to see me. I understand all of this, but running out of the building to the driveway is about his safety and I am NOT going to let that go.

I told him that he should NEVER leave the building without telling anyone where he was going. NEVER. He should not be running out near the driveway. It is dangerous.

NEVER!

I understand his issues with the water and the hand-sanitizer and how he was a having a hard time getting over it (once he does get over it; he is OVER it), but this was about safety. He needs to understand that it is dangerous. He cannot make a habit of leaving places (even if he sees me outside) without notifying the people in charge and he certainly cannot go running out close to possible traffic. Yes, it was a remote driveway, but there are no gray areas with DC.

He knew I was upset and started one of his apology tours. Fearing the loss of computer privileges for the weekend, he put that aside a little bit (although I was sure I would get the full package later)  and went back inside without too much of an issue.

We finally made it to Dunkin Donuts and got our coffee.

As we were sitting there, my phone rang.

It was DC’s phone.

I panicked for a second, thinking something was wrong.

I answered.

“Hello Mom. I am sorry for ‘the’ running outside”

It was bothering him and he decided to call me.

He decided to call me.

No one told him to. No one suggested it to him (trust me, I checked with the director)

He decided to call me.

It occurred to him that he could call me.

He has really only done this once before.

Once could be a fluke, but twice is – I hope – him understanding that he can use the phone if he is having a problem.

I made sure I praised him up and down about it and reiterated that he can always call me at any time – when ever he wants to.

Believe it or not, that one little phone call made me feel like he is “getting it” which of course made me feel a whole lot better.

(and I received my first dandelion bouquet of the season)

Progress. It comes in the little things, but it is there.

***

Doug, who has witnessed many of DC’s never-ending, in my face every 10 minutes apology tours (see: Chosing My Battles) had a good laugh halfway though. He could imagine the apology tour, me finally getting to have coffee and thinking I was getting a short reprieve from the said “apology tour”, only to have the phone ring with “I’m Sorry Mom!”.

Honestly, I was so thrilled by the spontaneous use of the phone that this did not even occur to me.