Envelopes, Bags, Shredding and Communication

 

Last weekend was one of those weekends where DC was just all over me, all of the time. I could not make a move without hearing “Mom! Come here please.” or “Vickie, where are you going?”.

Every step I took, he was calling me, most of the time for no reason at all.

I was upstairs plunging the bathroom sink. I really do not know what the deal is with that sink, but I seem to spend a lot of time plunging it. DC had already checked in to see what I was doing more than once and had gone back to his computer. I had already been up and down the stairs a good 6 times because he always waits until I get to where I am going before he asks me to “Come here, please” so I decided that I would call him for a change.

We had just been grocery shopping and I left the bag that held the drain-o on the kitchen table.

For someone who was so concerned about where I was all day long, it took me six (very loud) tries to get him to answer me.

“DC, please bring me the white bag that’s on the kitchen table.”

He came to the bottom of the stairs with a shipping envelope.

I would understand the confusion if I had asked him for an envelope from the table. The table holds, I can’t even tell you how many envelopes and other papers that I think maybe I need to keep, or that I have to find a spot for, or mail that I don’t really have to keep but has to be shredded or junk mail that has to be shredded before throwing away (Chase, Capital One and AARP – I’m talking to you!). Getting rid of all of it would mean that I would have to empty the shredder – so there it all sits.

(You will be happy to know that I did get rid of about 50% of the envelopes and paper this week while watching an episode of Star Trek Discovery on the computer in the kitchen. All of the shred-able items went into the sink to be mashed up into clumps and thrown away while the shredder sits there, still full… Oh, the lengths I will go not to have to empty the shredder.)

He knows what a bag is, but for some reason the request threw him off. I asked again for the white bag that was on the table. After the second request he brought me the bag, but now I had to worry about what he did with the shipping envelope because it contained part of his Halloween costume.

When I got back downstairs I asked him where he put the envelope. He pointed upstairs – which is where he brought the bag when I asked for it. I tried to explain:

“DC, before you brought me the bag, you had an envelope in your hand. Where did you put it when you came back to get the bag?”

He just began pointing to random places. Places in the living room, in the kitchen, outside, and upstairs.

I even tried to re-enact the whole thing by getting an envelope, bringing it to the bottom of the stairs and saying “No DC, I need the bag on the table” going back to the kitchen and asking “Where did you put the envelope that you had?”

He just could not understand what I wanted.

I did not want to give up because at this point I wanted him to understand the question.

As we were going through the reenactment, I noticed that the envelope was in a box, which was probably right where he found it originally, but I did not let on that I saw it. So I went through the whole thing again, this time pointing to the table where it clearly wasn’t, asking “Did you put the envelope here?”

DC: “No”

Pointing to the empty chair – “Did you put it here?”

DC: “No”

Pointing to the box, where I had spotted it – “Did you put it here?”

DC: “Yes”

“There it is! Thank you for telling me where you put it.”

He was glad that we found it and was no longer anxious about what I was asking for and I hoped that after all of the looking, reenacting, and explaining he finally understood what I had been asking him.

But this, right here is my point. This is why I write these stories. 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.

He has speech – yes. He can communicate – yes. But communication is difficult, he cannot always tell me anything other than his standard scripted answers. He cannot always follow directions. He might understand something one day but the next day he just cannot get it.

A simple question about where he put something took a good half hour to get him to understand. I am not positive that in the end he actually DID understand but we had to play it out all the way so he was not anxious about it anymore. He had to be the one to say “yes, it was there” or he would not feel better about it.

This is DC.

This is how he communicates or at times does not communicate. This is how he follows directions and at times cannot follow directions. This is how he processes questions and sometimes cannot process questions. This is how he processes information and sometimes just cannot process information.

Because he gives standard answers, people do not always realize right away that he is not giving the correct answer to their question. People who know that he may just be giving a standard scripted answer may not realize it when he DOES understand the question and gives the correct reply.  Other people he meets along the way in life are not going to take the time to reenact the whole scenario to get to the answer to that question. It is a constant struggle for him and for me, but we do not give up.

I know at 26 years of age there is not a lot of progress that will be made. I know that we will never get to a point where I don’t fear the future when he no longer has me to help him,  but we do not stop trying. There is always a little bit of progress made – there is always something…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Can you say that again? I missed it the first 40 times.

Knowing full well what I was in for, I took away DC’s computer privileges on Sunday evening for reasons that are not necessary for this story.

He is only allowed to use his computer on the weekends. This rule stemmed from the original rule of watching his DVD’s on weekends only. As he now uses his computer to watch his DVD’s,  the rule was amended to include his laptop. He has an iPad and is allowed to use it daily, which he does. I have not had to make a weekend rule about iPad use… yet. I did, however have to put limits on it.

What is the difference, you might wonder? Watching his DVD’s becomes an obsession to the point where he does not want to do anything else. While on the computer he can have the same scene playing on DVD, Netflix and on YouTube on three different screens and alternate rewinding that scene between the 3 screens. It is rewind heaven! Because he cannot use his DVD’s with it, he has not reached that level of movie watching…err rewinding in multiple windows on the iPad.

Losing his computer on Sunday night meant he would not have the opportunity to use it again until Friday, IF the behavior did not continue.

And so it began…

“Mom, use it on Friday.”

“Mom, I promise never to do it again. I’m sorry! Computer on Friday?”

“Mom, I behaving.

(Repeat, with some variation 122 times)

I explained that we would have to see what happens during the week before I tell him he could have it back on Friday.

Monday morning:

“Mom! I was a good sleeper. Computer on Friday?

Mom! I behave! Yaaayyyyyyyy!”

(Repeat 26 times before breakfast) 

Finally, and with a great deal of apprehension because it was Monday and Monday’s have not been DC’s favorite day, by any means , I told him that we were not going to talk about this any more and if he kept asking, he would certainly not get his computer back on Friday.

With that, DC went upstairs and I waited for the fallout.

Instead, he seemed to take that time to think about it because I heard him reciting a line from one of his Disney shows; “If you live in my house, you have to follow my rules”. This also made me believe that he was actually understanding that he did not follow the rules and I was not just a “Mean Mom”.

It seemed as if we had turned a corner.

I did not hear about it again the rest of the morning.

When he called me in the afternoon to tell me that his transport had arrived and he was “going home nowwww”, there was no mention of “Computer Friday”.
Wow! He got over this one rather quickly.

Yay, me!

He called me again when he arrived home as always. Usually this call as well as the earlier call are scripted; he rarely goes off script – he tells me he is home and tells me what he and his aide are planning to do.

He not only went off script but he went off script rather loudly.

COMPUTER ON FRIDAY!!!!

Me: We’ll see what happens this week.

“Computer on Friday” continued after I got home from work.

Now really what I should have done was taken his computer away on Sunday for the original infraction and if the behavior continued, take it away again for Friday, because we all know that “Maybe” is not a word and “We’ll see”, if it means anything to him, probably leans more towards a “yes” than a “no”. But I was all in now, so I could not back down and change my mind.
(Please understand that even if I had told him at the beginning that he could have his computer back on Friday, all of this would still be happening as he would feel the need to verify that fact; over and over again.)

After answering the same question more than once and reminding him that we were not talking about this now, he decided to change his strategy…

“Mom, Going to Dad’s on Friday and use Dad’s computer?”

Sigh….

Me: No. when you lose your computer privileges, you lose them everywhere.

(Repeat this conversation 5 times)

In my infinite wisdom I thought that if I gave him a specific date and put it on the calendar, I might get a break from the continuous questions.
I marked Thursday on the calendar and told him that I would let him know about “Computer Friday” on Thursday.

“Mom! Come here!” (calling me to the calendar and pointing)

“Thursday to use computer on Friday!”

“Mom will tell me on Thursday. Use computer on Friday.”

“Mom! I am a good <insert eater, sleeper, dresser …..> Thursday to use computer on Friday.”

(Repeat 3,946 times)

You knew that was coming…….

Revisiting “Feeling Chastised”

The following was written a few years back. It was written more about the discourse  within the autism community and not about autism awareness or acceptance. In actuality, I suppose it could be looked at as a piece supporting  the awareness, acceptance and respecting the differences in the ways parents view autism. There is far too much hostility.

I am re-posting now, in this, the month of April. With all of the added awareness and supposed acceptance that has taken place over the last few years, really not too much has changed in this, our little corner of the world, or in my friend’s corner of the world. Not very much at all.

If anything; things have become more difficult….

Dear Abby – Feeling Chastised in New England

Let's all celebrate

Let me just begin by saying that since I began writing this blog I have had the pleasure of meeting a few Autistic Adults.  They are amazing individuals that do a great deal to raise awareness about autism. I “speak” with one in particular often enough to consider him a friend. He is a wonderful human being and it makes my day to “talk” with him or just read his posts. He is truly an inspiration to parents of children with autism, other teens and adults with autism. But above all that, he is a glowing example of the good things that can be found in today’s young adults in general. I don’t think of him as having autism, I think of him as my friend, plain and simple. I’m honored to have him as my friend.

My son’s autism or level of autism  is not like my new friends’. Autism affects each person differently.  Therefore, parents should not be made to feel inferior or chastised for their own beliefs. Everyone is different, everyone. There is no right or wrong when it comes to autism, just a lot of people arguing with each other, it seems.

Today I received this private message on my face book page from a friend of mine who is pretty much in the same boat as I am “level-wise”.

The fact that she did not feel comfortable posting it publicly, speaks volumes about the environment we find ourselves in with the hostility that she (and I) knew would have ensued had she posted it publicly.

(The following message is used with permission. The names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Dear Abby (Vickie)…I think I’m missing something. Why is it wrong to feel like I’ve lost something in having an Autistic son? Why are we supposed to not want a “cure” or something that helps them handle this world we live in a little better? I look at the video of Bob from birth to 18 months and there were signs, but he was still there. It was June of 1996 – he was 18 months old – all of a sudden he disappeared. He is lost to me. He will never have a normal life. He will constantly need care and supervision. There are many people that are on the much higher functioning side of the spectrum that can navigate the world today. Bob is not one of them. Why am I supposed to not want that to be different? People say you don’t miss what you never had – but I know what could have been. I know what life he could have had and now for sure will not. He will find happiness somehow; he will be as productive as his disability allows him to be. But the sky is not the limit for him. The opportunities for him are not the same as they are for my daughters. Why am I supposed to celebrate that? With all this  hullaballoo about celebrating autism over the last few months, I’ve been feeling like a minority. I think these kids are lost – lost to the life that could have been, lost to the possibilities that would have been. I feel they have a disability because they are “not able” to process and handle what happens in life the way others do. Why are we getting lost on the rhetoric? Am I missing something Vickie?

Feeling Chastised in New England

I have said this many times and in many different ways:

  • I celebrate my son as an individual
  • I celebrate my son because he is my son and I love him more than words could say.
  • I celebrate his accomplishments, no matter how large or small they may be.
  • I celebrate him because he is wonderful.
  • I do not celebrate his autism.

I write stories about my son because:

  • He is wonderful.
  • I’m very proud of him.
  • I’m very proud of his progress.
  • He makes me laugh every day.
  • He makes me smile every day.
  • He makes me worry every day.
  • I believe these stories shed a little bit of light on autism and the way his mind works – not all autism, but his.

I don’t believe anyone should be made to feel “less than”. I don’t consider my son “less than” but there is an issue. There is that life he could have had. Maybe it would not have been a better life, maybe it would have been, but at the very least he would have been able to understand it and navigate through it.

Celebrate Autism? I can’t do that. Maybe others can, but I cannot celebrate his level of autism.

Individuals should be celebrated, not the diagnosis.

Like “Feeling Chastised”, my son will never be able to live on his own. He will never be able to take care of himself. He will not know when/if he’s being taken advantage of. He does not understand danger or safety. He is verbal but really not able to communicate if something might be wrong.

My suspicion is that many of these parents in celebration have younger children or children that can function at a higher level than mine. They still have hope of great progress, and they should have hope, there is always hope. I still have hope for more progress, but living in the real world I know that even though he continues to make progress, none of the issues listed above will improve enough that I will not spend every day and night worrying about what will happen to him when I am gone. This is the stuff our nightmares are made of. What’s going to happen to them when we’re all done celebrating autism? Our “kids” are going to outlive us, people. Who’s going to take care of them? Will they be cared for in the same fashion that we have cared for them?  How drastically will their life change then? Think about it.

If I haven’t said it a hundred times, then let this be the hundredth; 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?

When your child with Autism becomes an adult with Autism and your own mortality begins to slap you in the face, come back and talk to me then about this celebration we are supposed to be having.

Those of us with adult children that will not be able to live or navigate the world with out constant support, that have been in the trenches for many years, long before there was a “spectrum”, long before there were many of the services available today, deserve a little bit of respect and deserve to be able to voice our opinions as you are allowed to voice yours;  to want something more than a celebration.

I believe in raising awareness. I believe in trying to make people understand Autism. I believe that INDIVIDUALS and accomplishments should be celebrated. I also believe some of us need more than that.

My only wish is to be able to die in peace knowing my son will be okay…….

2016 Top 5 Posts, #1 – “Mom, do you love meeee?”

I am happy that the following came in at Number 1 in 2016; it is one of my favorites.

We still have the same conversations and he still says it exactly same way. I will surely never correct him and I hope that no one else will either…..

“Mom, do you love meeee?”

I love you Magly

From the time that I was old enough to think about it, I always promised myself that if I were ever to have children that there would never be a second in their lives that they would not know that they are loved. This would never be something that they would have to wonder about – not for a single moment…

I think I have lived up to that promise to myself.

DC can and does tell me that he loves me many times a day – complete with and accompanied by the “I love you sign”. I know that he understands in his own way, what that means. This is not to say that I believe it is always all about me. Much of the time it is, but there are times when he just needs to have something to say. It is kind of a comfort thing for him. He says it over and over again when he is in an uncomfortable situation or a place that is new to him.

But, back to me….

I especially love it when he, at 25 reverts back to “I love you Mommy” instead of Mom, Mother or Vickie.  He is probably one of the most lovable people around and I am willing to take complete credit for that.

Is it just learned behavior and not real emotion?

Is it comparable to the times that I have to make a rule because I know he does not understand something?

Is he just, in his mind, following another rule?

Is he just going through the motions because that is what he thinks he should be doing or how he should be acting?

I used to wonder about that when he was younger but now I am convinced that although I am sure that some of that lovability was originally something that he learned, it IS also very full of emotion.

All of the above does not mean that he does not hear his fair share of yelling because let’s face it, every behavior can not be blamed on his autism.

When these situations arise and he is “in trouble” and after I start finding his apology notes everywhere – we always sit down and have a talk.

“No matter how upset Mom might get when you do something you are not supposed to… I always love you. When you are in trouble, I always love you. You never ever have to worry about that.”

When he is “in trouble” and we have not had the talk in what he thinks is a timely manner, he will come to me and say “Always ‘loves’ you.” He knows it, but he needs to have the talk. It’s a ritual and it is comforting to him.

DC’s ongoing “I Love you” campaign has evolved recently. While all of the above still holds true, he has added, ” Mom, do you love me?” (in his high pitched squeaky voice with the emphasis on the “me”).  I know he is not questioning the fact. I know he knows this and I know that he just wants to hear it again. I also know that this line must be something he picked up from a book or a movie because he is using the correct pronouns.

Just to change it up a bit, my response to this question is: “I love you madly”.

Just to change it up a bit more, I will ask: “DC, do you love me?”

His response is another in the long list of words/phrases that he uses that I know I should correct speech-wise, but I do not because I love the way he says them. I hope that this response never changes.

Mom, I love you ‘Magly’.

No corrections necessary……….

2016 Top 5 Posts, #2 1/2 – But does he know……

The following post was not written in 2016. It was written two years ago. I am including it as part of my “Top 5 Week” because it actually received more views this year than it did when it was originally posted. I also have a post banging around in my head that runs along this line, so I decided to give it it’s rightful place in the line up.

Two years later; I still really do not know…..

But does he know……

Lost in thought NY

I’ve been asked quite a few times –  twice just this past week, if I have ever told DC that he has autism and if so how did I approach the subject. Most of the questions came from mothers with children that are just beginning to or do already realize that they are different from their classmates and friends.

To be perfectly honest, I really do not think that DC is aware that he is different – I do not know if this is a good thing – at the moment I am going with – yes, but I really do not think he sees any differences between himself and other ‘men’ his age, or anyone for that matter. I really do not believe age is a factor in anything he thinks about or notices. I don’t think age means anything to him at all.

That being said, it is never perfectly clear just what he might understand and what he does not. I really do not know what goes on in his head at times. I Know that just because he doesn’t seem to notice or understand, does not always mean that he doesn’t. Going on the small chance that he may actually know that he is different… yes, I have told him. I have told him many times, since he was very young.

We don’t have “sit down and talk about it” sessions because he becomes overwhelmed with too much information. He needs examples, he needs to see something. We also can not  talk about it too often – when we talk about anything too often, it makes him anxious – he thinks something is wrong.  I never want to give him the impression that anything is ‘wrong’ with him. He doesn’t need that.

I have to take the opportunities when they come. Because he is very visual, I try to approach the subject when we are watching TV or reading something that happens to have a character with Autism. The first time I brought it up to him, we were watching TV.

I remember starting out by pointing out the character.

“DC, do you see that boy?”

“yes”

“He has autism. Do you know that you have autism too”

“yes” (he answers “yes” to just about everything)

“Do you see the way he flaps his arms? Who else does that?”

“You” (pronoun confusion – ‘you’ instead of ‘me’)

“Autism means you and the boy may think about things a little bit differently than Mom and some of your friends. Can you say ‘Autism’?”

“Autism” (usually I can type his pronunciations, but I can not type his pronunciation of the word Autism)

We’ve gone through this scenario many times – arms flapping – loud noises – whatever happens to be going on with a character or story.

We talk about it when we participate in an Autism Walk or fundraiser. We talk about which of his friends have autism. I can not get into too much into detail with him, I just point things out as they come up – a character, a fundraiser, his friends….

I point it out to him when he is watching his sign language sing-a-long DVD’s. I explain to him that his autism made it harder for him to speak at first (he was non-verbal until he was 7), this is why he went to speech therapy with Liza for so many years.

He was always very happy to see Liza every week. He worked hard.

(He LOVES Liza)

Before he learned to speak, he used sign-language.

He was always happy to see Sandi for sign. He worked hard with her as well.

(He LOVES Sandi)

Speech therapy and sign language were “good” things in his mind – fun time. This can be directly attributed to the insight and resourcefulness of both Liza and Sandi and the way they choose to make the process fun by working from his interests and incorporating them into his sessions. I am 100% sure that Liza can recite the “Wizard of Oz”, in every variation to this day. They made him happy.

We’ve discussed* it many, many times over the years and in many different ways, but for a boy who remembers everything, he can not give me the word “Autism” at any other time.  Unless I ask him to repeat it for me, he does not seem to even remember ever hearing the word. This just strengthens my belief that he really does not understand any of it. He does not know that he’s different and for now, that is fine with me. My goal here is not to make him feel that he is different.

So why do I continue to talk about it?

On the chance that he does recognize this now or later on, I don’t want him to wonder and not be able to communicate the question to me. This isn’t the sort of question he would ever be able to communicate.

And though I am relatively sure he does not understand, it is possible one day he may understand, or partially understand, but over and above all of that, if he were to hear “Autism” or “Autistic” elsewhere I want to be sure he doesn’t think it something that is “bad” or “wrong with him”.

I don’t and will not harp on it – I don’t feel the need to have those long heart – to – heart flowery discussions about it. He is happy, he knows he is loved. I will continue to mention it from time to time when the occasion arises, just so the word is recognizable to him and just in case he should ever wonder. If there comes a time when it seems that he might need to know more then I will try to explain it a little more in-depth or try to come up with a different way to explain it to him. For now, he seems to be just fine knowing what he knows and that is really all I want.

I wish I had a better answer for the people who asked…

Have I told him?  – Yes.

But does he ‘know’?

I may never know for sure….

Branches, Branches, everywhere..

DC fell asleep on the couch last night. I happened to notice a scrape on his elbow. I went over to check to see if it was actually a scrape and accidentally woke him from a dead sleep. I apologized and told him that I was just looking at the scrape he had on his arm. In his half-asleep/half-awake fog, he felt for it. I asked him what had happened –

and even in this not fully awake –  really mostly asleep state; his answer was the same as it always is. Already drifting back to sleep,  he  whispered,  “Tree Branch”.

From earlier this year:

Those pesky tree branches…

tree branch

I know that I have written more than once about DC’s inability to communicate to me or anyone else if/when something might be  wrong. There have been very few times that he has actually volunteered information to me when he was not feeling well or when something hurt or was bothering him.

Most of the times when he does communicate a problem to me, it is really just a ploy to cover himself in Band-Aids:

DC: “Mom, my leg is killing me.” (there was nothing wrong with his leg, I checked)

Me: “What happened to your leg?”

DC:”I broke my leg.”

Me: “How did you break your leg?”

DC: “Tree branch. Ouch!” (we are in the house)…

The lengths that he will go, to plaster himself in Band-Aids.

A tree branch seems to be the number one culprit in many of his injuries. This leads me to believe that at one time or another a tree branch was indeed the reason for an injury. When? I have no idea, but once he comes up with an answer he likes, it usually becomes one of his standard answers.

More often than not the answer I get is Nothing ‘wong’ or Nothing happened. Although DC almost never really gets cuts or scrapes – which I assume is the reason for his obsession with Band-Aids and really is not what I’d call accident prone, he does always seem to have an odd mark or “spot” somewhere or another. These “spot” mysteries oftentimes take a good amount of time for me to figure out. He is not always a big help in that area.

There was the one time that he came home from his senior class picnic with a red mark (scrape, but not really band-aide worthy) on his arm. When I asked him what happened, he told me that his IA (Para, to some of you) Mrs. G. pushed him into a bush and he fell down. Now, if I were a more paranoid person (hahaha, who am I kidding, we all know I am) I would have believed this because He Was Actually Telling Me Something, but I have known Mrs. G for years so his explanation did not hold water. Of course I did not tell him that I didn’t believe his story because: 1. He actually told me something and I didn’t want to discourage him from doing so in the future and 2. I assumed that he probably really did fall into a bush and Mrs. G was there to help him out. ~ It’s all in the translation. I spoke with Mrs. G the next day and yes, my version was correct.

Or the time that I noticed a large quarter sized mark on the side of his leg/hip one morning before camp. I could not for the life of me figure out what happened. He was offering no information at all. I asked the camp nurse to take a look at it. She did not think it was any kind of bug bite (I am always concerned about bug/tick bites when he is at camp). I asked DC again what happened he just kept saying “swing”

“Did you fall off of the swing?”

No, swing.

“Did you get stuck on something on the swing?”

No! Swing (he was beginning to get upset – so I had to stop because if I ask too many questions he thinks he is getting it wrong and changes his story).

After thinking about it for quite some time, I realized that he was actually telling me what happened. It was the swing. DC loves the swings at camp. He will spend any free time and all of the outdoor rec. portion of his time on the swings. He is a big boy. The swing was rubbing against his hip every day, causing something that resembled a very large healed-over blister. Once I figured it out, we just kept it covered with Band-Aids, so as not to cause so much friction. This was one of the very few times where Band-Aids were applied for a legitimate reason .

Then there was the big stripe down the side of his neck, which is a regular occurrence now, but the first time I noticed this mark, it scared the life out of me.

“Oh My God! What happened?”

“Tree branch”

He was in the car with me all day. He did not come in contact with a tree branch. Once again, it took me a while to figure this one out. When we are driving he rocks back and forth in his seat with so much force that it shakes the whole car (very distracting to the person driving). Because we had been driving so long, the seat belt was rubbing against his neck with every rock for a good long time, causing this large red stripe down the side of his neck. I do not think he even felt it. I have always believed that he does not feel pain the way we do or he does not process pain the way we do.  This and the fact that he is not always able to communicate what might be going on is and will always be a huge worry of mine. Verbal does not always mean communication.

Last week, I noticed a mark on the back of his leg. I asked him what happened. “Nothing happened”

He hates for me to look at these things because he is afraid that he will have to go to the doctor. After a lot of back and forth and ‘egg – guo – ing’ he let me put some anti-bacterial cream on it and he went on his way. He brought it up again the following day on his own as his way of apologizing for giving me a hard time the day before. “Feels much better now, Mom! Thank you! Thank you!”.

I asked him again what happened and he rattled off a list. I am sure the answer may be in there somewhere if I think about it long enough – and then again, maybe not… one never knows.

“The swing” (which would have made perfect sense as it looked similar to the swing injury –  if he had been on a swing.)

“A rock”

“A spindle – ouch” (my personal favorite)

‘The chair”

“Tree Branch”

So…..

Sometimes I do get the answer I am looking for albeit in a round-about way,

and other times…..

I am just left with a tree branch..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mom, do you love meeee?”

I love you Magly

From the time that I was old enough to think about it, I always promised myself that if I were ever to have children that there would never be a second in their lives that they would not know that they are loved. This would never be something that they would have to wonder about – not for a single moment…

I think I have lived up to that promise to myself.

DC can and does tell me that he loves me many times a day – complete with and accompanied by the “I love you sign”. I know that he understands in his own way, what that means. This is not to say that I believe it is always all about me. Much of the time it is but there are times when he just needs to have something to say. It’s kind of a comfort thing for him. He says it over and over again when he is in an uncomfortable situation or a place that is new to him.

But, back to me….

I especially love it when he, at 25 reverts back to “I love you Mommy” instead of Mom, Mother or Vickie.  He is probably one of the most lovable people around and I am willing to take complete credit for that.

Is it just learned behavior and not real emotion?

Is it comparable to the times that I have to make a rule because I know he does not understand something?

Is he just, in his mind, following another rule?

Is he just going through the motions because that is what he thinks he should be doing or how he should be acting?

I used to wonder about that when he was younger but now I am convinced that although I am sure that some of that lovability was originally something that he learned, it IS also very full of emotion.

All of the above does not mean that he does not hear his fair share of yelling because let’s face it, every behavior can not be blamed on his autism.

When these situations arise and he is “in trouble” and after I start finding his apology notes everywhere – we always sit down and have a talk.

“No matter how upset Mom might get when you do something you are not supposed to… I always love you. When you are in trouble, I always love you. You never ever have to worry about that.”

When he is “in trouble” and we have not had the talk in what he thinks is a timely manner, he will come to me and say “Always ‘loves’ you.” He knows it, but he needs to have the talk. It’s a ritual and it is comforting to him.

DC’s ongoing “I Love you” campaign has evolved recently. While all of the above still holds true, he has added, ” Mom, do you love me?” (in his high pitched squeaky voice with the emphasis on the “me”).  I know he is not questioning the fact. I know he knows this and I know that he just wants to hear it again. I also know that this line must be something he picked up from a book or a movie because he is using the correct pronouns.

Just to change it up a bit, my response to this question is: “I love you madly”.

Just to change it up a bit more, I will ask: “DC, do you love me?”

His response is another in the long list of words/phrases that he uses that I know I should correct speech-wise, but I do not because I love the way he says them. I hope that this response never changes.

Mom, I love you ‘Magly’.

No corrections necessary……….

Those pesky tree branches…

tree branch

I know that I have written more than once about DC’s inability to communicate to me or anyone else if/when something might be  wrong. There have been very few times that he has actually volunteered information to me when he was not feeling well or when something hurt or was bothering him.

Most of the times when he does communicate a problem to me, it is really just a ploy to cover himself in Band-Aids:

DC: “Mom, my leg is killing me.” (there was nothing wrong with his leg, I checked)

Me: “What happened to your leg?”

DC:”I broke my leg.”

Me: “How did you break your leg?”

DC: “Tree branch. Ouch!” (we are in the house)…

The lengths that he will go, to plaster himself in Band-Aids.

A tree branch seems to be the number one culprit in many of his injuries. This leads me to believe that at one time or another a tree branch was indeed the reason for an injury. When? I have no idea, but once he comes up with an answer he likes, it usually becomes one of his standard answers.

More often than not the answer I get is Nothing ‘wong’ or Nothing happened. Although DC never really gets cuts or scrapes – which I assume is the reason for his obsession with Band-Aids and really is not what I’d call accident prone, he does always seem to have an odd mark or “spot” somewhere or another. These “spot” mysteries oftentimes take a good amount of time for me to figure out. He is not always a big help in that area.

There was the one time that he came home from his senior class picnic with a red mark (scrape, but not really band-aide worthy) on his arm. When I asked him what happened, he told me that his IA (Para, to some of you) Mrs. G. pushed him into a bush and he fell down. Now, if I were a more paranoid person (hahaha, who am I kidding, we all know I am) I would have believed this because He Was Actually Telling Me Something, but I have known Mrs. G for years so his explanation did not hold water. Of course I did not tell him that I didn’t believe his story because: 1. He actually told me something and I didn’t want to discourage him from doing so in the future and 2. I assumed that he probably really did fall into a bush and Mrs. G was there to help him out. ~ It’s all in the translation. I spoke with Mrs. G the next day and yes, my version was correct.

Or the time that I noticed a large quarter sized mark on the side of his leg/hip one morning before camp. I could not for the life of me figure out what happened. He was offering no information at all. I asked the camp nurse to take a look at it. She did not think it was any kind of bug bite (I am always concerned about bug/tick bites when he is at camp). I asked DC again what happened he just kept saying “swing”

“Did you fall off of the swing?”

No, swing.

“Did you get stuck on something on the swing?”

No! Swing (he was beginning to get upset – so I had to stop because if I ask too many questions he thinks he is getting it wrong and changes his story).

After thinking about it for quite some time, I realized that he was actually telling me what happened. It was the swing. DC loves the swings at camp. He will spend any free time and all of the outdoor rec. portion of his time on the swings. He is a big boy. The swing was rubbing against his hip every day, causing something that resembled a very large healed-over blister. Once I figured it out, we just kept it covered with Band-Aids, so as not to cause so much friction. This was one of the very few times where Band-Aids were applied for a legitimate reason .

Then there was the big stripe down the side of his neck, which is a regular occurrence now, but the first time I noticed this mark, it scared the life out of me.

“Oh My God! What happened?”

“Tree branch”

He was in the car with me all day. He did not come in contact with a tree branch. Once again, it took me a while to figure this one out. When we are driving he rocks back and forth in his seat with so much force that it shakes the whole car (very distracting to the person driving). Because we had been driving so long, the seat belt was rubbing against his neck with every rock for a good long time, causing this large red stripe down the side of his neck. I do not think he even felt it. I have always believed that he does not feel pain the way we do or he does not process pain the way we do.  This and the fact that he is not always able to communicate what might be going on is and will always be a huge worry of mine. Verbal does not always mean communication.

Last week, I noticed a mark on the back of his leg. I asked him what happened. “Nothing happened”

He hates for me to look at these things because he is afraid that he will have to go to the doctor. After a lot of back and forth and ‘egg – guo – ing’ he let me put some anti-bacterial cream on it and he went on his way. He brought it up again the following day on his own as his way of apologizing for giving me a hard time the day before. “Feels much better now, Mom! Thank you! Thank you!”.

I asked him again what happened and he rattled off a list. I am sure the answer may be in there somewhere if I think about it long enough – and then again, maybe not… one never knows.

“The swing” (which would have made perfect sense as it looked similar to the swing injury –  if he had been on a swing.)

“A rock”

“A spindle – ouch” (my personal favorite)

‘The chair”

“Tree Branch”

So…..

Sometimes I do get the answer I am looking for albeit in a round-about way,

and other times…..

I am just left with a tree branch..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk Slowly

cruise 081 (2)

We’ve had some “weather” over the past week or so. Ice and snow are not on the list of DC’s favorite things. Usually I have to walk him out to his transportation if there is even a patch of snow or ice on the sidewalk – and believe me, he does not have a problem taking me down with him (or instead of him) if he falls or even just slips a little bit.  It is drama all of the way. Watching him walk down the sidewalk the other day (it was clear enough to “do it all by myself”), reminded me of the following post from right around this time two years ago.

So, from January 2014, we have…..

Literally Speaking

Raining Cats and Dogs

Raining Cats and Dogs

Twelve years ago, I wrote this:

“You can NEVER be too specific:

 While learning “grocery shopping” in the classroom; his plastic cart full of plastic food… he was told that it was time to “put everything on the counter to pay” – Instead of taking the food out of the cart, he lifted the entire cart onto the counter!”

And

“When you tell your child to pull his sweat pants down over his socks and he proceeds to PULL HIS PANTS DOWN from the waist to his ankles – You know you were not specific enough with your request.”

And a few years later, this:

My son loves to write little “stories” (he thinks they are stories, but they are usually just one line).

I had been home from work for a few days with the “Flu”.  It really didn’t occur to me that he had no idea what the “Flu” was and I wondered why he would laugh each time I mentioned it. He decided he would write one of his one-line “stories” for me to make me feel better ……

“Mom was so high”

It took me a few minutes…… but then I realized he thought I “Flew”

  • Then there was the time I said “Now listen closely” and he stuck his face one inch from mine…..
  •  He laughed for about a week after I told him it was time to “hit the road”.
  •  Or.. after the third round of kids whacked the piñata at his camp Halloween party, the Director said “Okay, DC, lets’ see you to tear it up” – he yanked it down and ripped it apart with his hands.

tear it up

There are so many other examples, but these few really stick in my head.

Needless to say, like many people with autism, DC takes everything literally.  Over the years, I have gotten much better at recognizing when something is said or read that taken literally will not make much sense to him. I always try to stop and explain what it means in that context, whether he asks or not.

He has made a great deal of progress in that area as well. He knows that the “flu” does not mean “flying”. He gets that “hit the road” means we have to get going. But he knows these things because they were explained to him, he is not able just figure it out himself – how could he?

Knowing this about my son, I suppose, when I told him to “walk slowly” on the sidewalk just in case there was ice (there wasn’t), I should have expected this:

Journals

journalBelow is an article that was published in the October issue of APM. I did share the entire issue when it was first published, but was asked not to share the article itself on my blog (something to do with Google and Searches) until it appeared on their blog. Since it has not appeared on their blog so far and I still am trying to blog from my phone due to our internet issues, I thought that inserting photos rather than trying to type with one finger on my phone seems to be the easiest route to publishing a new post. I decided I would share it under a different title as not to go back on my word and confuse Google.

 

APM Pg 39

Pg 40

This story was originally posted here with the title of “What Did You Do Today?”

It was published in the October Issue of Autism Parenting Magazine – Take a minute to read the full issue.

Hope to be back on-line very soon!