Room to Grow

As my son follows me around the kitchen, immediately fixing items that I move out of place, and as he monitors and resets all of our other shared spaces after we use them, I daydream about the new house we are planning. I am hoping this move, which will give our son more space and more control over that space, will calm his nerves. And mine.

My son’s new “apartment,” which will be connected to our house, will be a pretty sweet set-up. In a lot of ways, I’ve thought more about his house than ours, so it’s possible my husband and I will be living in a cardboard box next to our son’s home, I don’t know.

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A Sweet Treat

We were shocked by how fast he moved. 

As soon as he leapt off the couch, we knew exactly what he was doing. 

Really, we shouldn’t have been surprised. But my husband and I have these little moments every once in awhile, when we look at each other and go, “OK, yep, he gets it.”

This is what I mean by “strong receptive language.” It’s just hard to accurately describe the nuances of that on an intake form.

Sure, this young man has trouble with complex verbal instructions and sometimes has difficulty completing tasks that make no sense to him. 

But given the right motivation and goals that are meaningful to him, and he gets it.

So much more than anyone gives him credit for.

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Earlier in the day, I had taken him to a local bakery to pick up some cupcakes for a birthday dessert for myself :). He picked out a cookie for helping out, but he had to wait until after dinner for the cupcakes.  Read More

A Space of His Own

We’ve known for a while that our autistic son is going to continue to live with us for the near future, and very likely the far future, too. There aren’t many other options (whether it’s a group home or a shared/assisted apartment) that we feel comfortable with for a high-needs, semi-verbal individual such as he is.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need his space. And, it definitely doesn’t mean that we don’t need ours.

So, for the last year or so, we’ve been strategizing and scheming and dreaming about how we can all live together, sanely, moving forward. Read More

To that “Other” Mom at Zumba

Dear Vigilant Mom at Adaptive Zumba,

I was watching you in Zumba class and I hope you don’t mind if I offer a bit of advice. This class will be really great for you and your son …. if you could just chill out a little. (No, this isn’t a critique of your dance moves, that’s for another letter.)

I bet you heard about this fun cardio-fitness class offered by a local parks and rec adaptive program from other parents whose teens/young adults attend. I’m sure it took you a few months to get up the nerve to sign your son up, because you just never know if he’ll like it. But the once-a-week class is less than 20 bucks, right? So, you gave it a try.

I heard you tell the instructor that your son has never taken a class like this before, but I could tell from the first day that your kid really likes being here. Oh, I know there was some anxiety at first, since he (and you) didn’t know what to expect. But it was clear by the third class, he was so happy to be there. I mean, of course he was. Upbeat music. Repetitive movements. Welcoming instructor. Enthusiastic peers. Wall-to-wall mirrors. It’s like Zumba was made for him, right? It’s a dance party in here.

I watched you encouraging him to follow the instructor, and showing him the steps. You were so happy every time he started to move his arms or legs (but usually not both together) to follow the routine. He truly has such good rhythm! But he’d only move for a few beats and then pause to stand and watch or spin those beads. You seemed a little disappointed when he stopped dancing, and I could see that you were struggling to find the right balance between insisting he dance more (“I know he can do this!”) and letting him do his own thing. Read More