There are days I wish that my ASD child could keep up with the other children his age in sports. There are days when I wish that I didn’t have to push so hard to get him to do every little thing. There are days when I feel that I can’t possibly continue on with this amount of energy spent just trying to get him through his daily schedule. But then… and yes, usually when I have just about given up… he gets it. He was speech delayed as a baby…. and then began to talk all at once. Not a single word and then another, but a word and then a sentence. He was delayed with walking, but then toddled and began to run. Reading. Heaven help me the reading. He could read, but would not read out loud if he thought anyone could hear him. Then he seemed to regress for quite a period of time. Obviously, I don’t know what it felt like to him, but from the outside he appeared to comprehend and then translate the words. I know from his speech testing that he has a delay with language processing so that when anyone speaks to him, there is a few seconds where he has to hear the words, understand them and then put them in the right order before responding. This is common with ASD children as you may know. It has gotten better over time, but it is still there and I know (and have to remind myself) that he words hard just to be able communicate in a social setting. Maybe there was some of this that affected his delay with reading? Figuring out the letters and sounds, putting them in the right order, comprehending, putting the words in the right order and then getting the full meaning of what he read. With delays, that is a lot. Words are still not his thing. Nevertheless, he is a pretty decent little reader now! Whew! We made it over that hurdle! And that is my point. With a special needs child, every little thing that they learn is a cause for celebration! We celebrate all the little things with M. He and Mr. A lost their soccer game on Sunday, but you know what, I was the loudest, happiest, biggest cheering mom on that field because both of my boys, but particularly M, were both trying hard, playing hard, improving so much! He was IN the game, finding his focus, eyeing the ball, working at dribbling and passing and he had a very impressive goal defense, ASD or no. The way G and I were carrying on you would never had known our boys did not win. We went out for ice cream afterwards! We have learned that when he has projects in school, we encourage him to choose an electronic medium for presentations (YouTube videos or Power Point) instead of written papers or poster boards which would require more fine motor skill frustration than is really necessary to get the work done. While mostly supported by the school, we have run into some technophobes who require constant assurance that yes, the special needs child in your class with the aide can indeed set up his own technological equipment (computer/tablet, cables and speakers) and run his presentation with no assistance. Its sitting still and writing words with a pencil that is difficult. Math, typing words, and electrical devices are easy. And I celebrate that too. And every time I want to collapse into a puddle because M can’t do things the way that I did them growing up, I realize that he doesn’t have to. He CAN do things his own way, in his own time.
Having a child that requires so much effort and support has taught me a lot. I don’t sweat the little things… as much. I had an acquaintance confide to me that she was concerned that her daughter couldn’t work a buckle on her clothes. She’s four. My 8-year-old still can’t do that. It is probably the absolute least of my worries. Mr. A’s teacher brought up some concerns about him (looking back, it seems it was a phase) and I had to hold myself back from rolling my eyes. I know what behavioral challenges and/or delays look like. That child was BORED. A week without games and playdates and he found that attention span in school. There is a difference between choosing a behavior, and NOT being able to STOP your behavior. All parents have to decode their children’s behavior. Choose your battles wisely. Buckles = not necessary. Reading = necessary.
Anyway, I am off to celebrate Miss S’s wonderful singing concert this morning with a playdate for her. Go be fierce and celebrate something small!