We're at a crossroads with our Super Hero and I have two nagging thoughts I need to share.
While we all know the ASD highway can have stones, potholes and lane closures, I feel as if we are headed down an exit ramp. Therapists and supporters call it a bump in the road, I call it stress and getting lost!
As Jake is getting older, his physical presence fills a room. He's huge and strong and the chemicals of puberty are causing his impulses to be even more out of control. Nothing is simple any more and we're having to back track our behavior strategies again.
He's old enough to know he doesn't like mom and dad telling him what to do anymore but still needs prompting, redirection and predictability. We're back at making schedules like we used to, except this time they don't have pictures! "Those are for babies"!
This morning, we meticulously entered his schedule for morning and afternoon into his iPhone. We set the reminders to alert him 5 minutes before each transition. This way he can be alone, follow his routine and he doesn't have to hear my voice, which I swear is his latest trigger. He will be rewarded for following and completing tasks.
Secondly, I believe we've crashed at the intersection of Discipline Drive and Safety Side road!
If there are behaviors then there will be push back, we need to plan and think first before reacting. If he doesn't like what he hears he now goes after me or the dog. So our discipline has to be planned so we can all stay safe. We have to try and predict the reaction of the restriction and my defense strategies if he becomes aggressive, before instituting anything.
We can take away privileges if certain criteria can be met: I am in a place (mentally) to contact authorities if he's endangering me, if we are able to get him to a space where he can't hurt himself or anyone else, and if we believe the risk of punishment fits the crime.
Up until now we've been able to manage behavior without a thought about the kickback, but puberty is a different beast. We will maintain our schedule, force public outings and always have escape routes because that's our life. I refuse to hide in my house and let ASD rule me. We all need to practice and enforce consequences just like everyone else.
So if you see me and I'm looking flustered (like crap), just know my brain is having to think about 5 miles down the highway in preparation for another unexpected turn off!
Whoa!! You all came to my rescue!
I'm am thrilled and surprised with the outpouring of love after my last post on loneliness! I feel that post not only shed light on a very real and never-talked-about subject but also lifted our family up as well.
The comments on my fb page are amazing and heartfelt, the text messages, the private messages and phone calls... wow wow wow!! (yes I'm yelling!)
People bringing chocolate cake, beer, wine, water bottles and love show up on my front door step to make sure I'm alright. I also have to add that most of my best friends are men -- and they did not dissapoint!
Most of the private messages were from men, I think it's funny they didn't choose to hang it all out there on my fb page, but that's the difference between women and men and I'll take it!
I'm thrilled with the re-connections made, as is Chris, and watch out dudes, I just may take you up on your offers! Thanks so much all... we're doing great!
"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for." Dag Hammarskjold
My quiet moments spur me to writing which in turn helps all of us feel not so alone. They don't happen often, but when they do, profound emotions flow from my fingertips. What a blessing!
Every once in a while you come across those truly blessed people. I don't mean the kind that have lots of "things", I mean the kind that possess such a spirit of love that it is visible, palpable and they glow.
We first crossed paths with Ms. Jackie when Jake received his private placement for school a few years back. I didn't know her well, but could recognize her as one of the teachers at his school. She soon resigned from the classroom setting, followed her dream and moved into the dance room!
Jackie started a dance company called ZamDancing. I've been afraid to try it for a year or so because the sounds, flashing lights, and general sensory blast. But after seeing Jake enjoy it outside at a local autism event, we decided to give it a try.
Of course I emailed her a million times before we even arrived. Warned her of all Jake's quirks and potential pitfalls. I was more nervous than Jake, as he was so excited he could barely stand still.
The music started and suddenly 15 special needs kids, of all different levels, were suddenly in "sort of" rows completely jamming out! And I mean full out rockin! The thought that struck me first was, this is FREEDOM for these kids.
All day long, they are told how to sit, fold ready hands, stand in a line, be still and quiet, pay attention, and focus. At ZamDance they are FREE. There are flappers, screamers, twirlers, breakdancers, rockers and kids that barely look up. But you know what, they are all in community, experiencing the joy of just being free to do whatever their brains are telling their bodies to do. The movement is encouraged and celebrated even if it's more stim than structure!
Some kids find the beat, some kids dance to their own rhythms but they all idolize Ms. Jackie. This woman is a rock star... in the dark room with flashing lights I could see her inner-light shining at the head of the class. She can move in ways that aren't possible for my old knees anymore and quick... holy cow she's quick!
As I watched from the back, I could feel the tears brimming my eyes numerous times. When the cool down stopped, Jake was sweaty, hoarse from cheering and keyed up! "I want to do this all the time mommy! We have to come again! Ms. Jackie is awesome!" This montra hasn't stopped all day long.
He broke out dancing in the restaurant while sitting at the table, he stopped in the parking lot and practice his "sliding step" then bee-bopped all the way to the car after shopping. You know how hard it is to try on pants when you can't stop your toes from tapping? Jake wants me to download every song he danced to onto his ipod so he can practice for next week.
I know he had fun dancing, but I also know it was so much more than that and he felt it. He wasn't corrected he was encouraged. He wasn't laughed at he was applauded. He was part of a non-judgmental community and he reacted to it in his own way, jus tlike every other child in the room.
What a blessing Ms. Jackie is in the lives of dozens of children with intense needs. She just loves so freely and you can't mistake that feeling... it's Divine.
If you missed yesterday's post on loneliness it's here.
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