I’m not sure what I was watching happen with Connor yesterday…but I plan to re-visit it! We were just playing on the bed that I keep set up for him, in what used to be my office. It’s a queen box spring with a super comfy mattress on the floor. I removed the bed as I felt it was too high for my bouncy boy! On the floor sits a mirror that used to be on top of a dresser. As we lay on the bed I watched Connor, watch himself. After a bit I introduced my reflection as ‘Nana.’ I then introduced his reflection as ‘Connor.’ We’ve been trying to teach him to say “My name is Connor,” or at least respond when asked. I did that a couple of times and he touched himself, not his image and said, “Connor.” Then I laughed and pulled my ears out and said, “look at those ears!” He did the same and then touched his nose repeating things once again. After that he was watching his hands, wiggling them and studying them…the mirror image, not the real thing. So I played with the mirror image, showing him he has 2 hands…wiggling fingers and counting them. Then touching our hands together and going back and forth to the mirror image. I then added his 2 hands with my 2 hands making 4 hands. He really seemed to be understanding the lesson. Most importantly here, he didn’t scream or want out of the it. He was content to learn and enjoying it. I am going to try and come up with more mirror image lessons for him to see how that goes. Yes I know this is odd…but if it works, fly with it! I love watching Connor learn. It is amongst the greatest highs in life! I’ll try to catch a picture of him studying in mirror image but for now I am adding one I love. He has fallen in love with songs like “New York” and “Singing In The Rain.” He is also in love with the men who used to perform these songs, wearing top hats and walking canes. He has stolen my dancing bears walking stick, which looks like a magic wand and my daughters black hat. He puts them on sings bits of these songs while parading around the house wiggling about. I just love the pose in this pic, the super hero shirt and pull up with no pants
If you search for a more optimistic view, you will find it. I’ve been trying to change my negative thinking into something a little more useful. Recently I have noticed that I am, in fact, becoming an optimist. The other day, one thing after another seemed to be knocking me down. My first thought was negative. I woke up stiff and sore, which usually scares me because it is a sign that a lupus flare is about to take place. I chose to shrug it off, knowing the logical thing is to assume it is just yard work getting to me! Hours of climbing up and down steep hills and hauling pine straw to the top will do that to even the most healthy body! Anyway, I walked into the kitchen and picked up the rejection letters that I have been ignoring. Suddenly, I heard my inner voice, “I’m never going to get published!” For some reason on this day, my brain overpowered that voice. I heard very loudly, “Oh bull shit! You can do what you want to do! Do you want this or not? If you want it then file those and get moving forward!” The funny thing is the voice I heard was MY OWN! Yep, I said that right out loud…to MYSELF! LOL! I can tell you between that moment and the first cup of coffee, and the long walk down to my hiding place to work…many small bumps in the road leapt out to snag me. Most are too personal to share. The smallest of those bumps was watching my phone leap out of my hand and literally fly down the stairs. I walked down, picked up the phone and again heard my voice speaking out loud, yes, to my telephone. “Thank you, in that moment of having to pick you up, I remembered I still need to take time to use the bathroom! Way to go phone!” So now that I’ve had time to review the changes of going from a negative person to a positive one, I have to ask you, am I becoming more positive or just entering a new realm of insanity? Hmmm, is it possible that all you full time optimists are actually slightly nuts?
Last time we went swimming I felt quite hopeful that Connor was going to finally start learning a little about how to swim. He bobbled in the water, seemed to begin to cop on to the fact he needs to close his little mouth or he’ll get a mouthful of water. He began to venture off the constant cling to our arms and understand that if he reaches toward something and kicks he will get there. The awesome part was that when he was done, he informed me he was done and immediately headed out the door. No tears at all. It was really quite amazing! Today I went back with the enthusiasm that we would be venturing into a little more swimming. Connor didn’t really seem too interested in the water today. He climbed in and then out a few times. He went to the baby pool, which is unique for him, where he discovered a weighted rocket ship at the bottom. First he tried to stick his head down under water to get it, and didn’t like that idea at all. It took about two seconds for him to remember he has fabulous monkey toes, to which he used to grasp the thing and then force it up one leg and into his hands. Resourceful little fellow! Then he spent his entire swim lesson shouting, “5,4,3,2,1…Blast off!” He would lift the rocket ship into the air and once in a while yell, “moon!” He flew it about making life like motor noises and telling the world, “Rocket ship!” To be honest the joy and fun he had was so freakin’ adorable that for me the lack of swimming experience fizzed into a quick ‘who cares!’ His daddy was a little more disappointed…but here’s the thing…he said, “hey guys,” to several little children. He smiled and told a mommy that past by, “hello.” He imagined he had a rocket ship that would blast off…and he got a fun day in the sun. I stressed over the moment that we would have to remove the toy and give it back to the person that owned it. After quite some time of watching him play I opted to toss the rocket ship about the water and watching him go get it, over and over…finally taking the toy and hiding it. He screamed for about 30 seconds. Then it was over and he was ready to go home. We had no real tantrum…by golly, I think this kid is starting to catch on to ‘the way life is!’ I did try to find him a weighted rocket ship for the pool at Walmart and couldn’t…so adding that to my list of things I totally have to search for! All in all, this has been a great Connor day! Oh how I love the great days! What did he learn, well I think he is learning that he can’t just have the toy when it belongs to someone or someplace else. I think he is learning to feel safe around other groups of people and who can forget that moment when he figured out how to make the toy come up out of the water with his toes…What did we learn? Well we learned that you can plan the days lesson all you want…but sometimes it’s just not the lesson that is going to take place. Go with the flow…let the learning come to him and we all seem the better for it!
I really didn’t have a chance to talk about my Dad on Father’s Day…I do try to keep this blog for information about autism and Connor. I think it is fair to take a break and just put in a little short something to introduce people to who my dad really is…believe me if you meet him, this is not the man you will first speak to. Hang around long enough and you’ll find the real one. Like me, my dad is a sunshine kind of person. Rain makes us gloomy and depression starts to sink into our bones…but we are pretty good at allowing the inner child to take control when those old rainy day blues begin to hit. Dad is currenly in Ireland, where he’s been for more than a month now. It is still cool and damp, constantly overcast…half the year he is in South Georgia, and a little less then half in over-cast Eire! This Father’s Day I was out with my husband and daughters, when I got home…it was to this email from my dad. I love it so much, I simply had to share it:
This morning the sky is heavy but it is not at the moment raining. Last night while the rain was pouring down, I was in the upstairs bathroom and noticed a slug trying to crawl (or slime) his or her way to the inside of the window. He or she had climbed on the outside of the house all the way up the roof. Perhaps it was trying to escape from the flood waters gathering below. The slug saw me looking at it and looking up, the best a slug can do, said in a very low voice (you have to listen very carefully to hear a slug because they have a soft somewhat gargling sound to their speech), “please let me in…it is so wet out here and I think I am coming down with a cold”. I was so divided by this plea. Half of me wanted to flush the slug down the toilet, my normal practice when slugs try to come in the window, and the other half feeling some sympathy for a living creature almost visibly shaking from the dampness. I didn’t know what to do, so I said to the slug, “just stay where you are and I will think about your request”. I went back to my bed still puzzling about what to do and went to sleep.
I awoke many hours later and went into the bathroom and there was the slug, exactly where it had been the night before, half in and half out of the window. I still didn’t know what to do. Feeling rather sluggish this morning myself, I thought I would ask you if you had any thoughts on what to do about this slug.
Bill Dad Gdad
Still laughing days later…I love you Dad! Come home soon!
I sat with Connor yesterday going over shapes. I handed him a circle and asked, “What is that?” He handed it back and said with a shrug, “a shape.” I laughed and said yes, that is a shape called a circle. He tossed it aside. Then I handed him a square, again I asked…”What is that one?” “A shape,” he responded nodding his head happily. Okay any simple-minded Nana knows by now she is wording this thing completely wrong. I mean seriously the child IS answering the question as asked! I handed him a star this time. “Look Connor this is a star.” Nodding his a head a happy Connor hands it back and says, “shape.” Wait, what did I do wrong that time? Deep breath…”Connor, look, a triangle! This shape is a triangle.” I handed it to Connor who looks at it and says, “triangle.” YES! So I go through the entire thing again and no matter how I word it, a circle, a square, a heart…they are all shapes…but a triangle IS a triangle.I dunno…LOL! I know he knows them each by name. He happily yanks the heart necklaces of both his mom and Auntie while saying heart. He looks at the stars on tv and says the word star. I’ve heard him say both circle and square…yet on this day those shapes are indeed nothing more and nothing less than just shapes! Some days I want to just feed information in and hope it sticks but other days…like this one…I just want to cuddle and make wordless jokes with the most adorable Grandson on earth!
I don’t really know what I was thinking. Connor was so into his bubble bath, dunking his face blowing bubbles…and the light clicked over my head…swimming lessons! Off I went to have the local pool to add Connor to the list of children who would like to participate in beginner level swim class. I was feeling so proud of myself, so excited for the super fun days of swimming Connor was about to experience. Lesson 1 brought about 5 or 10 minutes of fun before the desire to explore all the other children’s bags of toys, the deep end of the pool and he pretty much drifted from one thing to the next thing for 20 minutes when he hit total meltdown. Screaming, pinching, just not a great moment for any of us. Auntie Stef<annie> had her back twisted out of place…yet remained calm. Once we had Connor safely buckled in his car seat the screaming continued to the point that I hit a meltdown of my own…until Auntie started singing, which calmed Connor somewhat. I don’t mind that the swimming lesson went badly, what brought me to tears was that old familiar feeling of failure when it went so very wrong. I was prepared to give up but after an hour and half of screaming, a calm voice said softly, “swimming.” So we went back the day after that with his daddy…it was still not a great adventure. FAR better than the first time but oh so not a happy day. He may have made 25 minutes before yet another meltdown hit. Tomorrow we try again, this time with a bag full of every toy we have seen other kids carry to the pool. I am no longer expecting a great adventure, just a half an hour in the sun. If it ends in tears that is still okay. I’m not sure how the seemingly bad moments in my eyes are twisted in his, he WANTS to go back, he wants to swim. We are not even attempting to ‘teach’ swimming anymore, now it’s just 45 minutes of intro to new experiences…Connor in my house is this cuddling, sweet, sensitive little boy. He’d never pinch or hit. He just takes you buy the hand and leads you to what he wants to do next…Connor in strange new places is a very different child. I was impressed yesterday when we all went out for Father’s Day dinner…and Connor was happy, loving the atmosphere for most of the meal! He ate his salad, ate his hot dogs, so thankful that the steak house had hot dogs, haha. He even told the lady thank you every time she came to the table. I guess the thing is to just keep going and doing new things over and over, leaving at the first sign of stress. I need to get out more and meet others who have been living this longer. People who have more suggestions of what we should try and what we should avoid. I actually didn’t even know that the out of control screaming is said to be more like an adult having an anxiety attack and not an actual temper tantrum…I’ve read a lot, so I was surprised to learn that. There must be a million things I need to know to make Connor’s life the best it can be. How and where can I absorb it all…ASAP! On the bright side, a few months ago I ached to hear him ask to go outside, now he says it easily. That and many other words! We are moving forward…because it’s the only place to go! 🙂
Connor and I made pizza together…it was a lot of fun and I think we both learned a few things long the way!
First, starting pizza from scratch, while it is fun…takes a little more time than the average 4 year old wants to put in. He cracked the eggs like a pro, okay so there was little shell to pull out…but it was a great attempt! He poured the oil in and the yeast and stirred it up…everything was going great. We played some games while things did whatever they were supposed to do, and then we mixed it with the gluten free pizza flour mix. The spoon mixing was okay but ONE touch of the sticky dough and he thought he’d rather just let me take over. I patted it out, and again he gave it one pat and quickly pushed it away. Then you have to bake it for a few minutes before applying the pizza sauce and toppings. That was a little hard for him to understand but he was pretty patient with it. When I pulled it out and we began pouring the sauce on, putting the pepperoni’s and cheese on…awww, now we’re talking! That was a blast and you never saw a happier boy…………………….until I took it away to bake it! Wow! There was some ear piercing screaming, some on the floor fit pitching, okay so I was to blame for some of the on the tantrum on the floor, because after awhile I just decided to join him. He flew off that floor and raced to his Grand-dad like a monster had just been unleashed! Oh well, he stopped roaring at least! haha! I did end up feeding him a load of pepperoni’s and cheese to keep him waiting quietly though. Once I pulled it out of the oven, it arrived to the table with shouts of ‘hurray!’ What did I learn from this? Well I learned that maybe we need to make a few things that don’t take quite as long as pizza from scratch, to get him used to working in the kitchen and seeing the items through from start to finish… with a little less emotional upset. What did he learn, well he either learned that pitching a fit would get him plates full of pepperoni’s and cheese OR he learned that while creating a pizza with all the yummy stuff on top looks awesome, it still has to bake in the oven. I’m happy either way, because lets face it, any learning is better than none! <grins>