My son did well at the fundraiser Friday evening. With verbal prompts, he said "hi" to a few people and eventually got out onto the dance floor! He did a great job volunteering at the drink stand.
Saturday morning was amazing. My son did all his chores without any verbal prompts or issue! He took out the garbage without verbal prompts; twice! And he ate without verbal prompts or issue! He even announced he was having a bath; then had one! My jaw hit the floor when he said, "Mom, I finished my chores and I just have to put away my laundry. After I do that, can I make a grocery list?" I spent some blissful time working on personal things in my room, an extreme rarity when my son is at home.
Eventually, off we went to the grocery store. It was a nice walk on a warm day and we had a nice chat along the way. Once we were in the grocery store, I noticed my son was frequently tugging at the back hem of his shirt. When I asked him why, he said he didn't know and moved his hands. That didn't seem unreasonable or unusual, so I didn't explore further til I noticed that he was continuing to tug at his shirt; frequently. I asked him to turn around and lift the back of his shirt, which he did ever so slightly while keeping his other hand firmly in place to cover his pants. Eventually I learned the problem; the back seam of his pants was ripped open. This was no small rip. I don't know that a rip that long even qualifies as a rip. This was an open seam; wide open, with bits of ripped thread and ripped fabric obvious even to my few-seconds-long glance. These weren't tight pants, but they were my son's last pair of pants that he hadn't ruined/hidden/stashed/trashed and I suspect he was tired of wearing them. (The agreement is that my son receives new, store-bought clothes for his birthday and Christmas; the rest are from the thrift store. Thrift store clothing is also purchased at the end of the school year/beginning of summer holidays. If he takes care of items from the thrift store for a set amount of time, he can have them replaced with new, store-bought items. If he continues to ruin/hide/stash/trash clothing, he wears what he leaves for himself or does extra chores to earn money to replace clothing items. For the last month of school, my son left himself one pair of shorts and one pair of pants plus shirts.) We continued our shopping then headed home with my son working at keeping himself covered. When we got home, he decided to change into a longer shirt then spent the rest of the day and evening with his niece who stayed over at our place for the night. She has recently started crawling and they were about five minutes into a rousing game of crawling back and forth from the coffee table to the back door when my son sighed heavily and said she was wearing him out! Otherwise, we'd prepared supper together then my son intently watched reports from the G8/G20 summits. He snacked on popcorn and visited with his niece and me for about an hour before heading off to bed. What a nice day!!
On Sunday morning, my son came downstairs with his sheet wrapped around him and a bit of a surly look on his face. I reminded him that bedding is not clothing and that he needed to put on some clothes. He went back upstairs and didn't return. When I called him for breakfast, he yelled from inside his room. A few minutes later, I told him this was his last call for breakfast. My son came out of his room and announced he didn't have any clothes. I reminded him that he'd just done his laundry the day before and that he needed to get dressed and come down. This was met by a slammed door with no other interactions throughout the morning. At lunchtime, my daughter and son-in-law came with pizza, including a gfcf pizza for my son who, when called for lunch, came down toga-style once again and was once again reminded that he needed to get dressed. He put on the ripped pants, but was reminded they were in no condition to be worn but that he still had shorts and they would be clean since he just did his laundry the day before. To make a longish story shortish, he chose to pull a t-shirt to his waist and have it hang down to his knees then wore another t-shirt just as a shirt. We all decided to just eat our pizza and enjoy our time together.
After lunch and after everyone left, my son started storming (arms crossed, eyebrows down, pouty mouth, stomping, etc) and was reminded that if he wanted to talk, he needed to do so appropriately or he needed to be in his room til he could be appropriate. He stomped up to his room, slammed the door, opened the door and apologized for slamming the door, and closed his door quietly. He came out to use the washroom on occasion but otherwise stayed in his room all afternoon and most of the evening. When I'd called him for supper around 6, there was a bumping noise from his room that sounded like he'd stomped his feet. Around 8:30pm, he came to the top of the stairs and said, "Excuse me please, Mom. I don't know what to do because I don't have any clothes left." "Where are your clothes? You just did laundry yesterday." "I don't know. I just have 2 t-shirts and I wore those today." "Where are the 6 t-shirts you had last week? And where are your shorts?" "I don't know. I just have my sweater now and the 2 t-shirts I wore today. I have to come up with a plan now for my clothes again." "Let me know when you've come up with something." About an hour later, he came downstairs (in his t-shirt ensemble) and said he had a plan for Thursday when he could do his laundry again but didn't know have a plan for the days before Thursday (his laundry time slot is Thursday til Saturday suppertime). When I asked how doing laundry again on Thursday was going to make his missing clothes show up, he said it wouldn't but then the 2 t-shirts would be clean again so he could wear them again. We chatted a bit about good choices, and reviewed what works and what doesn't work. I gave him an orange for a snack and told him to eat it outside and get some fresh air then come in and get washed up and into bed, which he did.
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.