I am pleased to say that, even through the stress of the lack of structure at the end of the school year and even through exams, my son has not chosen to relieve himself anywhere but in the washroom!! For some, I suppose that may sound crude or bizarre to report, but it is a great milestone in my son's life for which I am truly grateful!
And unless he visited some places on his adventure this morning, my son hasn't taken anything inappropriately at home or in the community (though school is a very different story, from what I understand from the resource teacher) for a number of weeks aside from a container of honey I'd left on the counter (he was very helpful in looking for it and was later very creative in his description of where he'd hidden it even though my daughter and I found it down in the storage room). Of course, I'm still very careful not to leave money around so he doesn't have to deal with the temptation of picking it up, and I still keep my bedroom door and my office door inaccessible for him, but there's still just such a different feel in our home with regards to not feeling quite as much vigilance is necessary.
He has had a couple of "meltdowns" during the past couple weeks, but I use the term loosely since the meltdowns simply (simply...ha!) involved a bit of mouthiness and being on-strike, meaning he just didn't do much else all evening other than try to start arguments, spitball his door and heating vent, and continually bang his feet on his carpet til he tired of it. Mind you, it lasted from the time he got home from school til the time he went to bed, so it was no party!! But compared to the all-out tantrums of yore over seemingly little things, this was a walk in the park. I'm so very proud of him that he went through what has historically been, and what seemed to still be, a high-anxiety time for him and that he did so without damaging anything and without running off to seek out sugar.
And (some of you who do know us might want to sit down for this one) my son is actually doing some chores and doing them without complaining! I know, some of you think the chore thing is just a teenage thing; but my son has never ever been agreeable to chores...at all....has had full-blown tantrums over them, etc..so the fact that I can now sit in the living room listening to him sing while he's doing dishes in the kitchen? Golden.
And he's come to a point where he understands that it doesn't work to not take care of his weekend responsibilities on the weekend. I'm not naive enough to think that my son is now going to always do his chores or do them without issue or take his weekend responsibilities seriously, but "a lot of the time" is definitely a nicer fit than "hardly ever and even then it's accompanied by tantrum."
My son has been reading a lot more this year. Presently, he's reading "Rabbit-Proof Fence." And when he heard a local pizza place was offering gluten-free pizza crust, his response was, "Mom, can they actually say it's gluten-free if it's in the same place as all the other crust?" He knows it's important to have protein, more vegetables than fruit, carbs, and calcium. He knows it's important to drink water throughout the day. Of course, he doesn't independently follow what he knows, but the information is in his head and at home he will make choices based on the information. He is a fantastic grocery-shopper, but that's not new ;-) And he has been independently attending a local walking club that gets together for a walk in the neighbourhood twice a week.
Clothing, hygiene (for himself and his belongings), and food continue to be the challenges he faces daily. It seems that his perfect life would involve him wearing the same outfit around the clock for days on end without washing or bathing, and eating lots of whatever he wanted but mostly at times that didn't constitute a "meal time" or having other people see him eat (he still seems to have a bit of a "I want everything to be secret" thing going to some degree). He still gets rid of clothes in a multitude of creative ways, but we seem to have had much fewer clothing restocks this year than other years. He is actually brushing his teeth much more often this year. That was a very difficult one for both of us because on days that he didn't brush, I brushed for him; it was not a party for either of us. He still doesn't seem to be able to handle much in his room. He will verbally say how he would like his room to be, but appears somewhat defeated when we talk about taking care of items. And when items are moved into his room, they do well (with daily room checks) for the first while but once they lose their novelty shinyness, they just don't seem to matter anymore.
Responsibility continues to be difficult for him but he's come along very nicely this year. He still lies, but not as much, and is sometimes quicker to the truth than he used to be. He's become more socially appropriate this year, and will often now spend time in the yard with other neighbourhood boys. And the neighbourhood boys are very ok with my son getting out his Rescue Hero action figures! Yes, he is technically too old for those now, but he didn't do a lot of playing when he was younger, and using action figures allows him to work out different scenarios and express himself in a way that would probably be very challenging for him otherwise.
He's also been doing some independent playing outside this year. That's been a difficulty for him all his life. This year, he's actually asked if he could go outside to play with his hackey-sac. It was amazing to hear him ask if he could play outside. I remember days when he couldn't handle being outside by himself, and even when he's spent some time outside on his own the past couple years it's been with hesitation and much looking at the window and coming to ask if I had called him. He's sure come a long way, baby!
My son is wonderful with his nieces, and he is wonderful with seniors. He doesn't understand the needs of babies and has often said he doesn't know what to say to them, but he loves spending time with them and makes eye contact with them, etc. And with seniors, he loves to play card games or board games, will ask if they would like some tea, etc. And when we're in a store, he'll often comment about something he thinks someone might like ("I think so-and-so would really like that scarf, Mom.")
Ok, enough blogging for tonight. We are off to volunteer at a fundraising event :-)
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.