Life, Autism, Disability, and More

Category Archives: good day

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Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

At Simon’s birthday party, he was showered with one of his favorite presents: books.

So many books.

So, so many books.

Maybe because the law of averages, he managed to get two of the same book. Since one of them had a gift receipt from Wal-Mart, we decided that was the easier one to swap out.

We returned it, and it went nice and smooth and easy. Gave it to them, got a gift card in response.

“Simon,” I said. “You get to buy something new! Do you want a book, a movie, a shirt?”(The list of some of his favorite things.)

“Yes,” he said, and he pointed towards produce.

Having no idea where it was going, I told him that I’d follow him.

He led on.

We walked through the produce and into the bakery. He wandered around it, looking at bread and cupcakes and…

“Are you looking for cookies?” I asked.

“Yes.”

I showed him where the cookies were, and he grabbed the kind he wanted – chocolate chip – and handed them to me.

“Okay, what next?”

He pointed to the back of the store and waited, looking at me.

“I’ll follow you,” I said. “Let’s go.”

And the grand tour of the store followed. We walked to the back. We walked to the side. We walked back to the front. Then to the back. To the other side. To the back again.

Half an hour later, I was getting tired. I convinced him it was time to pay and move on to our next errand.

He agreed, either tired himself or wanting to crack open the container of bakery fresh chocolate chip goodness.

To some people, it might not be a lot. Just a trip to the store.

But it’s more than that.

It’s a trip to the store where Simon gave the directions; where Simon picked out what he wanted to buy; where Simon made the decisions.

It’s Simon advocating for what he wants. Cookies.  

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baseball uniform*I might be the only one who remembers hearing this when growing up, so a quick explanation:
Little pitchers have big ears refers to the fact that adults must be careful about what they say within the hearing of children. The saying refers to the large handles (ears) sometimes attached to small vessels.

Now that I’ve forced that random knowledge on you…

Lately, I’ve been trying more and more to get Simon interested in average discussions and conversations. He doesn’t seem to be very interested in communicating more than his needs and wants, but I can’t help but believe that there are plenty of other things he could say if he could figure out how. When we go places in the car, and he’s stuck as my captive audience, I start trying to get him to have a conversation. I’ll ask what color the sky is, and if it’s grey, then I’ll ask him what he thinks that means. Questions like that are easy ones for him to memorize, though, so then I start asking harder questions, questions about what he thinks about and what he sees out the window.

One Saturday morning, he had a baseball game, and that afternoon, I took him to Target.  While we were in the car, I asked him what he was good at.

He said baseball.

I asked what else.

He said math.

I asked what else.

He said basketball.

It was a pretty nice list of things for such an abstract question.  

We went into Target and Starbucks (it’s an addiction! Don’t judge me!), and I told him he was good because he helped push the cart and waited patiently while it took forever for the barista to make my coffee.

When we got home, I thought I’d try to continue the conversation and pull Dad into it.

I asked the question again, and this time he began with baseball, but then said he was good at Logan’s (the restaurant where we ate lunch after the game and where we told him he did good at ordering his own food and then waiting for it to come to the table), and then he said he was also good at Target and Starbucks.

After he had added those in, he went back to the original list including math and basketball.

The point had been made.

Just because he’s a teenager who doesn’t say a lot, he definitely listens and learns. And he has huge ears. 


simon at lunchSimon came home from school happy about school, which is his normal status about school.

School is an amazing place, or at least he thinks that while he’s at home. (While he’s at school, it’s often a different matter and he can get mad at things not happening on schedule or teachers not being there.)

But today, it was happiness.

From the moment he got off the bus, he said school was fun.

I asked what he did at school. “Fun,” he said.

I asked again, emphasis on “what” he did…

“Learned.”

“What did you learn about?”

“High school.”

Okay, maybe that’s actually a “where” response, but close enough that I’ll take it.

These feelings about school didn’t fade away. He ran through his usual “script” about going to school and when he goes back to school (tomorrow morning).

But that wasn’t enough today. He kept repeating himself and wanting me to repeat it back to him.

So I came up with a social story on the fly and told it to him.

“In the morning, you wake up, then you get dressed, then you eat breakfast, then you get on the bus, and then you get to school.” I held up a finger for each step, numbering them one through five.

He nodded along, so I went for the repetition.

“What do you do first?” [One finger held up]

“Wake up.”

“Then what?” [Two fingers held up]

“Get dressed.”

“And then?” [Three fingers held up]

“Eat breakfast.”

“And next?” [Four fingers held up]

“Take the bus.”

“And what’s the last step?” [All five fingers held up]

“Get to school.”

“Do you feel better now?”

“Yes.”

“Great, so can you please get out of the bathroom? Because I kind of need some privacy now.” 


World's Best Mother StatueAt the thrift store, I spotted it.

One of those little statuettes from the 1970s. I remember having them in the house when I was a kid, up on the shelves with knickknacks and tchotchkes.

But this one. This one was for me:
World’s Best Mother.

I brought it up to the register to buy it, and the woman in line behind me saw it. Well, part of it.

“What does that say?” She asked.

“World’s Best Mother.” I picked it up off the counter and showed it to her.

And I bought it.

For myself.

 

I don’t know about your house, but in our house, summer is rough. Simon *loves* school.

He loves the people. He loves the routine. He loves the activities.

Starting yesterday (Memorial Day), he began to focus on ESY (Extended School Year for y’all not in the know…it’s like summer school, but for kids with special needs who need extra help over the summer).

He spent the whole Monday talking about ESY, asking about it, telling us when it was.

Unfortunately, ESY is only four weeks long. Two weeks in June. Two weeks in July. Four days each of those weeks. Three hours each of those days.

Math.
4 x 4 x 3 = 36 hours.

Over nine weeks.

I’m going into the summer prepared and hopeful.

The World’s Best Mother award is part of those preparations.

Like most mothers – especially those of us mothers with special needs kids – there are more days when we feel like the worst mothers instead of the best mothers.

But we shouldn’t.

Even on those worst mother days, we’re still pretty good. As long as our kids are still alive, we’re still alive, and no one is going to jail, it’s a good day.

We’re the World’s Best Mothers.

Download Me:
Worlds Best Mother Award

 


simon on a couch

This has nothing to do with this blog. We just went and sat on furniture because he likes to, and I took this picture and liked it.

In under a month, Simon turns 15.

Horrifying, isn’t it?

He will be firmly in teenage-hood, and, come the fall, he’ll be in high school.

I meant terrifying, not horrifying.

But that’s the scary news. Now for the awesome news:

Simon explained why he was stimming and how he was feeling.

For those who don’t know what stimming is, or why you should not stop a person from doing it, here’s a quick explanation. Stimming (self-stimulating behavior) is what a number of people on the spectrum do. It’s what a lot of people might call “hand flapping,“ or it can be any number of other behaviors that help the person to calm themselves or express themselves. You shouldn’t stop it because, well, it’s a person calming themselves or expressing themselves. (Go read this now. And be prepared to cry.)

Back to the story…

We went out to Logan’s Steakhouse. They serve grilled cheese, a veggie plate, and steaks, so they meet all our requirements for going out. They even have free peanuts.

We were waiting for our meals to come out, and Simon was stimming. He was sitting in the corner of the booth, flapping his hands, and moving his head. And smiling.

“Why are you doing that?” I asked him, not actually expecting an answer, but asking because I always try anyway.

“I’m happy,” he said.

Wait. What? He said he was happy?

“Why are you happy?” I asked, pushing my luck.

He didn’t say anything for a minute. Just kept flapping and smiling.

“I like Logan’s,” he said.

Wow.

First off, I can know with some degree of certainty that he does actually know why he stims, and he’s doing it on purpose. Second, I know that he really does like going out to eat there. I was pretty sure of that second thing already since he asks to go whenever we go buy our comics – I have no idea why he has put that connection there, but he has, and it’s awful hard to say no when you’re tired and don’t feel like cooking.

So, the next time you think about telling a person who stims to stop it or to have “quiet hands,” shut up instead.


simon at goodwillOkay, maybe it’s not a true sickness. But it’s one that I caught in my childhood, Patrick caught in his childhood, too. Now it’s Simon’s turn.

The sickness?

Book addiction.

I’ve been waiting for this day. I’ve been hoping for this day. I’ve been praying for this day.

And it’s finally come.

Simon has had favorite books before. Every night, he wants to read Goodnight, Moon. By now, everyone has that memorized. (In the great green room…)

We’ve been going to the library at least once a week, and he loves it, but he always tended to get the same books over and over. Board book, specifically. Simple ones, intended for toddlers.

I was fine with that. At least he had an interest in books. But there wasn’t much to them. A word or two a page with a picture.

Then it was summer, and we were bored. We started to go to thrift stores on a semi-regular basis.

He began getting books there. $1.00 here. $.50 there. His collection began to grow.

And then…

And then…we went to a thrift store, and he began getting cranky with me. I asked him what he wanted – normally that’s answered with the response of “a big hug!” – but that time he said, “books.”

We went over to the kid’s book area.

I searched the shelves, but I couldn’t find anything that he wanted. Then he reached in, almost randomly it seemed, and he pulled out an “Early Reader” Blue’s Clues book.

What.

The…

I had totally missed it, but he found it. I guess we don’t need to worry about him getting glasses anytime soon.

The minute he pulled it out, he opened it and began reading it. He read it all the way through. When I asked him if he wanted it, he said, “Yes.” Another irregular response – most of the time, he says “no” when asked if he wants things.

We went and bought it, and as soon as we got into the car, he said, “You can have your book when we get home.”

“Do you want it now?”

“Yes.”

I passed it into the backseat, and he immediately began reading it again.

The torch has been passed. We have a reader on our hands.


ESY has started back up, but in the two weeks Simon had off, we did lots of fun things. One of those was to hit the Galleria up in Houston.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m a cruel mom who forces her poor child to go shopping, please realize that he ASKED for the Galleria. I tried to talk him out of it. I offered all sorts of other options. No dice. He wanted to go shopping.

Not that he actually shops, mind you. Nope, he much prefers wandering around, staring at things, stopping to eat a cookie, and, in the case of the Galleria, checking out their awesome two-story fountain.

We were wandering around because I am one of those people that always gets lost in a mall. And there it was! Simon was super excited, and I told him to go ahead and sit on the edge because the ledge is pretty wide, and if you’re right there, you can feel the spray of the water as it hits down, and you get a cool breeze from it rushing past you. It feels awesome in the dog days of July.

What you don’t see in the picture below is that the fountain had stopped. It goes through its cycle, and then it pauses. I guess that’s when the water is all feeding back for it to run again.

Simon was waiting patiently on the edge, when – SLAM – it started back up!

He jumped. Almost fell over backwards jumped. Then he got a huge smile and settled back to watch it.

So as the Daily Show always said at the end…here it is…your moment of Zen…

 

simon at fountain