Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Life on the Spectrum...

I'll never forget that day when the doctor told me that Steven needed to be evaluated for Autism. I'd always felt that something wasn't quite right about his development, but that term was very new to me.

Since that day almost a year-and-a-half ago, life has been very eventful. Steven has been evaluated by the county for services, and he received some help from them, but both Daddy and I were very lukewarm about the progress we saw. At times I thought that Steven hated his speech therapist. I'm sure she wasn't too pleased at having to come to our house. But she was an angel to him, and for that I am grateful. He had a few weeks of behavioral therapy, but his therapist took ill, and that was put on hold.

I have higher hopes for school. Steven does much more when other kids are around. He's even eating school lunch. It's pummeling through his digestive system, but he'll get used to it. I just have to make sure he doesn't squat on the floor. That was somewhat okay when I was dealing with dry dingleberries. But anything mushy....hell no.

Speaking of poop...yeah, that's a new part of life on the Autism Spectrum for me. My son is a sensory seeking child, so anything that feels different or new...he's attracted to. Apparently that includes sticking his finger up his butt and plucking out turds. It used to be that he'd just "clean out his diaper himself" if I didn't smell him in time, but for a minute there, he would poop in the tub. He's pretty much over that part (I monitor him closely), but he still likes to poop and paint if you don't watch him. Not to mention, he's gotten used to doing the little toddler squat, and has to use different muscles to sit on the pot. So sometimes he will get up and use the floor. Did I just write a paragraph about my son's bowel movements? Dude.

Steven's still not saying much, but he will mimic. It's kind of garbled, but enough to make you turn your head and ask yourself if he said what you thought he said. He's not as frustrated lately when it comes to communication, perhaps I'm reading his cues better. Steven has many ways to let us know what he wants. Among them are:

-Covering his eyes to let you know he's feeling shy (new)
-Plugging his ears to let you know he doesn't like a sound (somewhat new)
-Pulling his high chair into the kitchen and climbing into it when he's hungry (not new)
-Yelling the moment he sees his milk or juice (LOL, since birth)
-Various facial expressions
-Sqatting in the corner when he has to go potty

When I write about these things, it's amazing how far he has come. I was reading his IEP the other day (Individualized Education Plan), and it made me smile, how the person who wrote his IEP took pains to emphasize his character. My son may be autistic, he may not talk, but he's very affectionate to those he trusts, clever (now, if he poops in the tub he hides it under the bath mat), and stubborn. I don't think I could have him any other way than who he is, and if that means him being autistic, then so be it.

However, dealing with the people who don't understand is hard. I'm grateful that his dad is paying attention, that the paternal grandparents are as well, and for his teachers. Not to mention the mothers I know with kids on the spectrum, and his old daycare provider. Because it takes a lot of self-control not to punch someone when I'm in a loud, populated place and my kid is screaming and stimming because he's scared...and someone comes up to me and tells me to spank him. Wow. How about I just smack you?

I discipline my child, but only when I can clearly see on his face that he knows he's into something he should not be. Other than that, I must leave room for where he is right now.

I'm used to the midnight diaper changes, I'm used to the night terrors which seem to scare us more than they do him. I'm used to being awakened at dawn. I think I might be falling in stride with this thing. My fellow autism moms said it would start to get easier. I'm beginning to think they might be right. Steven likes his routine...and so do I. :-)

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