Journey of a Mom of two amazing children on the spectrum
Monday, 5 March 2012
Every Monday we take the boys to Rolly Pollies in Severna Park. They have an open play from 6:15-7pm for early intervention families only and it has been a great way to connect with other kids and parents in similar situations. A couple of the kids from Natey's program come from time to time too. It also feels "safe" to take the kids here- if they have a meltdown it's no big deal, and no shock to the other families. It's great!
So Jack is obsessed with the water fountain at Rolly Pollies and visits it no less than 10 times in the 45 minutes we are there. Funny thing is that there are like 3 other kids there with him EVERY TIME!! I feel like they are looking at each other and thinking, "finally someone gets just how fantastic this is!" So as always, we redirect him, remind him that the moonbounce and 20 ft long trampoline are also "kinda cool". Sometimes we even convince him. One of the symptoms of autism can be an unawareness of one's body in space. Jack has this in spades. It makes him look really clumsy at times, but if you watch the pattern....bumping into people frequently, missing steps, fear of climbing, fear of swinging high...you realize that he is unsure of himself and where he is in relation to objects and people. This is something he works on in OT with "Miss Sam" (who he has an ENORMOUS crush on--- "I love her mommy"). I have noticed a difference in his confidence since we started going to Rolly Pollies though also....he is definitely willing to try more things. I know I am supposed to discourage my kid from jumping on the bed, but, well, I don't. I encourage it, I throw him on it (crashing), I roll him up in his blankets like a tamale and pretend to eat him up. The more tolerant he becomes of this movement, the better. Nathan on the other hand......well let's just say that the bed could be 10 feet off the ground over concrete and he would not hesitate to jump- the boy is fearless. He has actually pushed Jack to try new things at times.
Another really positive aspect of Rolly Pollies for the boys is the social interaction with kids "like them". Jack is growing by leaps and bounds socially and it is makes me so, so proud. The other day when I put him in the car after school he grabbed his toy crab (we are back to crabs this week), held it out the window and said "hey guys, look!". To parents whose children do not have Aspergers, no big deal right? For me- Jack was considering others, Jack wanted to share. OK, so he had no idea who those kids were, and they had no interest in a stuffed crab. It's still a step right? I worked in an outpatient clinic as a nurse for several years and at one point we had a patient with Aspergers who I cared for daily for several months. I honestly had no idea what Aspergers was when I first received his chart, and read up on it before I met him. OK, so I was to expect limited eye contact, repetitive behaviors, extreme intelligence and concrete thinking. Got it. Ha, not so much. Every day I drew this man's blood, and it never hit me until I worked with him that one of the main ways I communicated with my patients (and most people) was through humor. So I would sit with him through the blood draw and assessment every day, inevitably cracking jokes......nothing. It was so engrained in me that I couldn't stop, and yet every day I felt like a complete failure because his eyes would stay focused on the floor, I would get an ummm,hmm, and that was about it. Man I wanted to crack him!!! Never happened.....oh well.
This does not describe my little boy AT ALL. Maybe it's because he's a child, but I just don't think so. Sure, he has some trouble with eye contact at times (improving every day). Sure he's socially inappropriate in some ways. But Jack is such a loving little boy.....he worries about everyone and everything around him. He tells me he is "worried at me" when he is upset with me. At one point I was cutting back on the Starbucks (economically responsible thing to do when you are trying to finance all of these interventions) and would only get my latte occasionally on a Saturday on my way to take the boys to OT. We pulled into the drive thru and Jack said, "mommy, is a grande skinny caramel macchiato your favorite?". I said yes....his response? "I think you should have it anytime you want to". Now those of you who know me well know how much I adore my coffee....could he endear himself to me any more? really? Lately he's also trying to figure out humor- he is cracking himself up all the time. Every time I say something he doesn't like he asks "mommy is that a joke?" No such luck, but I love love love that he is exploring this. He has a little friend at Rolly Pollies whose name is ironically Nathan, he talks about him all week and is so excited to see him on Mondays. He met another little boy when I had him at the playground last week and when I turned around, they were holding hands.....so sweet! Seeing my boy this interactive and caring is priceless.