Archive for 'Social Skills'
I felt like a terribly bad mother last night as I dreaded this day. Not that it was some horrible blood-vial-drawing medical testing day, or IEP meeting day, or any of the other trying days we’ve all had as mothers.
It’s just that Edward had a 9 am soccer game, Joseph had a 9 am baseball game, Sue had a 12 pm soccer game and everyone had a school carnival extravaganza from 3 until 7. So much stimulation in one day is generally a setup for major tantrums, family disharmony and general filial chaos.
“Apparent Short-Lived Harmony”
“Mild disdain for sibling’s soccer game forcing you to sit in the cold at 9 am on a Saturday.”
I arrived with an overexcited Edward, armed with a passel of gf/cf treats to combat the cotton candy lust and sprinkle cookie bake sale yearnings. He bounced to his heart’s content, threw a whipped cream pie in the face of a beloved teacher, and met the school mascot.
(Is it just me or do you find this elementary school mascot a tad creepy?)
Still, the unexpected joy of the day came when Edward declared that he planned to play football with a gangly group of boys aged 7 – 16 that had gathered in the school playground.
Initially, my stomach flip flopped. I tried to steer him back to the giant bouncy slide. I cajoled him with dye-free jelly beans. I even agreed to let him drink a glass of lemonade that I am certain was laced with any sort of menacing yellow dye.
Nothing worked. He was bent on football and he raced on.
I was concerned that he would become upset and tantrum in front of all those children, but I was more worried that he would do precisely that in front of his brother who was a key player on one of the teams. Balancing their relationship has gotten trying of late as Edward’s personality has gotten a little large for the school and his brother is more of a child who likes to shrink into the background. Joseph loves his brother, but he is also ten, in a brand new school and trying to be a cool student-athlete.
Edward jumped in and was on fire–tackling 14-year-olds with abandon. He was quickly recruited by the middle school boys who loved his spunk. He played amazingly well, handling falls and tackles with aplomb and even calling a few plays.
And then at one point, the taller boys all tossed the ball to E, surrounded him with a wall of fourteenhood, and protected him through a rollicking touchdown. Everyone cheered and gave E high-fives.
And that child beamed. He shined. He was filled with such a joy it was contagious.
I sat there on the sidelines wondering how I ever could have feared for Edward’s future. Was this not God showing me a picture of His protection of my sweet child as he traveled this difficult life? How could I continue feeling so full of fear with God’s promises so clear?
Yes I will have to say, as they day closes, it was a good day.
Even the part where I had to “man” some bunjee jumpy bouncy thingy!
(I’m still hoarse from all the warnings!)
Last night, I had an occasion to take Edward to the grocery store without the other children.
Of course we were seeking ketchup–his favorite (and only accepted) condiment! (I would have to say he is it obsessed with ketchup since he dips scrambled eggs and raw carrots in it. In fact, I was lamenting this to MT this morning who always makes me feel better because her son has a ketchup penchant as well!)
We use the Publix organic ketchup because it doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, and because it is the ONLY ketchup without HFCS that he will actually eat. And we have tried them all and we go through two bottles per week. Enough about ketchup!
So we are standing in line and of course Edward begins to peruse the magazines.
I brace myself for the inevitable questions. (Remember the child star?)
His first: “What’s a ‘bombshell’ ? Looks like it’s some kinda big woman!”
It is Kirstie Allie touting her new Big Life show.
He then directs his gaze to the checkout guy: “Do you know what a bombshell is?”
The fellow grins and laughs a little.
“Ahh, Mom, I see you are buying Advil PM! Is that because you can’t sleep? Can you not sleep because of all of Dad’s horrible snoring?
That is indeed why I am buying Advil PM…that and a four-year-old who won’t sleep in her own bed when she is sick and must listen to the Heffalump sound track in order to fall asleep every time she awakens from her feverish strep sleep. I also can’t sleep because every time you wake up, you turn on your history CD and I can hear it drone on and on about the Celts from my room…
The checkout guy glances at me and stifles a laugh. I swipe my card and pay for the goods. I’m packing up to go when I notice a Sierra Mist in E’s hand. I did tell him he could get it since he tried his best at social skills class. The guy rings it up.
“One dollar and eight cents!” Edward comments. “What’s the eight cents for?”
I begin my patented “tax talk” and he interrupts, “Oh yes tax, I know all about that. So what would tax be on like 200 million dollars?” He looks at the checkout guy who looks at me, smilingly dumbfounded.
“Never-mind you two. It’d be about $1.6 million,” Edward asserts.
More money than we’ll ever see…
And with that, we’re out the door!
If you are new to this blog, or if you are confused because I have never spelled this out in black and white, my son, Edward, who is eight, does fall on the autism spectrum, specifically with a diagnosis of Asperger’s.
(Like many of you dealing with a new diagnosis, I write this with mixed feelings of both relief and trepidation. This is a label that I am just now beginning to absorb. After so many “possibles” and “closely resembles” from a host of doctors, the need for services at his new school necessitated this label, and I am OK with that.)
As with any child, Edward’s behavior vacillates wildly, so there are situations where he is completely like his peers and there are other situations where his differences stand out more. Soccer is an area where he gels fairly well, so I struggled with telling his coaches about his diagnosis.
I am new to this town and I don’t know what to expect. Will they still let him play on a “typical” team? Would they treat him differently? Do I want him to be treated differently because he has made it perfectly clear that he does not want to be treated differently.
After much agonizing and reading various professional and parental opinions about how to handle just this type of situation, I decided to simply share that he has issues with focus, attention and self control, and might need more patience than some of the other players.
So I’m standing there yesterday at the first practice, my heart sort of racing, waiting to see how he will or will not fit in with this new group, and I see a mother rush over to her sobbing player. Initially, I think nothing of it–they are seven and eight-year-olds–they still sob from time to time, neurotypical or not.
(Deep inside, I am somewhat glad another child is getting upset because that will make it less of a spectacle if Edward gets upset. I know that might be a strange way to think, but I’m just being honest.)
The little boy keeps crying, although it’s clear that he’s not hurt, and some of the other mothers (whom I have just met) begin to murmur among themselves about the reasons he might be so distressed. Then the coach’s wife steps forward and gently explains that this little boy is autistic. He is actually a twin, and his brother is on the team, but is not autistic. Everyone nods in understanding and returns to their conversations about crock pot recipes.
My initial feeling is one of odd relief, and I say a silent prayer of thanksgiving. God knew what he was doing putting my child on this particular team.
This was a hard post to write in many ways, but as I sit here at 3 am, I am slowly, but surely, beginning to feel a bit more free.
I am tired of skirting the issue like it is something to be feared or ignored or talked around.
So many of you have given me the courage to press on with this by writing about your own children.
I am ready to talk.
Since I enrolled Edward in social skills immersion public school during October, I have become accustomed to emails from his teachers which usually have subject lines like “A Situation Today,” or “Not sure how to handle this one please help,” or sometimes simply “Edward!”
(Eureka! You see now why I haven’t blogged lately. Not that I don’t have any content, per se, but that I haven’t yet built up the emotional stamina required to withstand all this teacher input!)
The latest one involves an award-winning titanium pencil sharpener, a pencil eraser and my second grader.
Apparently Edward approached his teacher with a concern that the pencil sharpener was “broken,” only to be corrected by a well-meaning (and honest) classmate who offered details regarding Edward’s attempts to sharpen the eraser end of the pencil to which Edward retorted something to the effect of “Silence! Don’t speak about it!” obviously trying to hide the fact that he had indeed shoved the a$$ end of a Ticonderoga into a rather expensive sharpener that was naturally a gift from a classmate’s attorney-father.
His explanation? “I thought it would be interesting and entertaining.”
So cut to the Office Depot where we are purchasing a new titanium pencil sharpener for the class. Edward locates the sharpener and approaches the counter where he carefully studies the box while waiting for other patrons to complete their purchases.
“Look–it says this sharpener is three times stronger than steel!” he muses, garnering the attention of the waiting patrons.
“Is that your personal experience with the sharpener?” I ask coyly.
“Uh, no……….ma’am,” he says looking up at me sheepishly.
And then he’s on. People are looking, he’s got an audience and he is ready!
“This sharpener broke at my school so now I’m sellin’ my brand new Star Wars Lego Separatist Shuttle complete with Nute Gunray, Onaconda Farr and three Droids. Sellin’ it to pay for the broken titanium sharpener,” he announces, a little too proudly, to the “audience.”
Yes you are, baby.
Yes you are.