Day 1. Success.
What a beautiful day!
My son came off the bus and slowly walked to the door with his arms hanging down in front of him and his hands locked together with his lunchbag handle in-between. There was little, if any, expression on his face.
When he came inside, he said his now-usual, "hulLO?" It took years of teaching/prompting before my son started saying "hi" or "hello" (when he came in the door, when he saw people, when he opened the door to let someone in, anytime that would be appropriate to say hello) without being prompted so the fact that he now says it on his own is very cool.
We chatted for just a few minutes before my son had his afterschool rest. (We learned during Gr. 8 that my son still does much better in the evening if he has a rest time when he gets home from school.) He was snoring within minutes of going into his room around 3:30 and didn't wake up til almost 5:30. During supper, he talked about his day: it was nice that not all the students were there yet, he ate lunch outside on the hill with a friend who used to play Starcraft with him last year and an EA who didn't introduce himself, then had 20 minutes in each class just to get used to the schedule. "It was really neat that not everyone was there today"...."I really liked that not everyone was there today because then it wasn't so full and we got to have a different kind of day"...."Tomorrow everyone will be there so I'm glad we had today the way it was."
After supper, my son did the dishes AND his chores AND relaxed outside while he did up his "lists" to put into a small album to carry with him. (For years, I've been doing up different aids for my son to use independently so he doesn't always need so many prompts from me for everyday things - but he would always destroy them and then show anxiety/anger when he couldn't remember things but didn't want me reminding him, or would turn to me for all the many many "helps" he needed throughout the day.) One list, for example, is of the steps that are necessary in order to clean up the kitchen. Another is a list of how to get ready for school in the morning. When I went outside to see how he was doing with it, he showed me that he'd even written up a list of items he needs to replace. I'd started creating aids for my son when he was 5 and stopped when he was in Gr. 6 or 7 because he was still continuing to destroy them. It's taken many many months of discussion and natural consequences of my son having difficulties from living with his choices to get to the point where he's realizing that sometimes life is just a little bit easier/smoother with some aids. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see his decision this evening!
By 8:15, he was asking about bedtime. By 8:30 he was snoring.
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.