Today Christian and I are going out to have frozen yogurt. We have a favorite spot that we enjoy going to about 10 minutes from our house. It’s funny….I remember when I couldn’t get Christian to try frozen yogurt let alone much of anything else. The only things he would eat were bananas, hot dogs and brownies. Now he cleans the refrigerator outwith his hardy appetite.
I had to learn that in order for him to step outside of his routine habit of eating I needed to constantly encourage him to try new things. At first it was difficult because he was so used to eating the same thing all of the time and really didn’t like other food textures. I began putting the new foods up to his mouth and if he wouldn’t take a bite I put a little on his bottom lip. Once he started actually trying things he learned that he liked them and the rest is history.
As parents of autistic kids we have to introduce them to new things even if they initially resist. Difficult does not mean impossible.
I remember when Christian was 4 years old and starting to talk. Sometimes he would ask for want he wanted by saying what it was but the majority of the time he pointed at things. Of course I was so excited he was beginning to talk that I was just satisfied with him speaking 2 or 3 times a day. Then one day it hit me….if he can talk 2 or 3 times when he wanted something why not the other 5 times when he wanted a banana or juice? I learned that he saw talking as an option. He knew that I would give him anything he wanted whether he used his word or pointed. To him if it wasn’t a requirement to talk, why do it.
I began telling him to “use his words” instead of pointing to things. Initially he got irritated with me; after all he hadn’t had to talk for 4 years so what was the big deal now. After a week or so he learned that I was going to ask what he wanted when he pointed so he started telling me before I could ask.
From that experience I learned that I had to set expectations for my son. Not because I want to give him a hard time, but so that he won’t expect doing his best to be an option. Christian still receives speech therapy and we talk everyday. Our children can learn to anything with our support. Yes, we have to take more steps with our Autistic and special needs kids but as long as they’re steps in the right direction we’ll get to where we’re going.
As parents we live for our kids. We eat, sleep and breath kids. Think about it, we watch their television shows, eat the foods they like and hang out at the places they like to hang out. Seriously,not so long ago I found myself preferring cartoons over movies with real people in them.
Being a parent is the most important job we’ll have but we can’t forget about ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with have a little “me time.” As a matter of fact, a lack there of can lead to crankiness, being moody or just being too emotional. NEWS FLASH….WE’RE NOT ROBOTS. If we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t do a very good job of taking care of someone else.
I took my own advice yesterday and went to a networking event. There was music, food, story swapping and a peace of mind. Going to that event reminded me that I don’t have to give up my life to give my son a good one.
At the Boss Network event
Christian’s first dance went extremely well! He spent the majority of his time there hanging out with the other kids on the dance floors as I sat at a table with other parents and camp counselors. It’s funny how we get these small reminders ever so often about how they’re growing up. There was a time when he would’ve clung to me the entire time at an event like this. Instead he choose to hangout with the other kids…wow.
Today Christian goes to his first dance! The summer camp he’s attending is having a “prom” to wrap up the summer session. Of course they told me about this event when I registered him at the beginning of summer, but it seemed like this day was soooo far away…and now it’s here.
Yesterday we picked up the last few pieces of his ensemble, which included his first neck tie. You would’ve thought he got a new toy if you measured the smile on his face. Seriously, I turned my back for a second and he was showing off his new tie to the guy managing the fitting room. I never figured he’d be so excited about buying dress clothes.
When we got home we tried everything on. I smiled and thought “he looks so handsome…wait…handsome? not cute?” At that moment I realized time was flying. The big relief is that the parents are their children’s date, so I get to enjoy this event with him. This will probably be the first and last time my son thinks it’s cool that I attend a dance with him, sigh.
I periodically think back to my initial reaction 6 years ago when I was told that my now 9 year old son had autistic spectrum disorder. I can very clearly remember thinking how the doctor was the nicest idiot I’d ever met. Surely my son couldn’t be autistic….I was among the top students all my years in school. Not to mention that I ate tons of vegetables, walked regularly when I was pregnant and never missed any of my prenatal appointments. I politely thanked the doctor for his time and Christian and I went home to take an afternoon knap. I never once mentioned the doctor’s diagnosis to anyone until a year later.
I accepted the fact that Christian was autistic when he was 4 years old and what should’ve been words were just sounds. I immediately jumped into action and searched for schools with quality autism programs and got us involved in social skills groups and play groups. I was as determined then as I am now to make sure my son receives a quality education and has a great childhood full of wonderful experiences.
I look forward to my blog being a link in the chain that brings special needs families together!