This morning, Chef got up, exercised, had breakfast, washed and dressed and was ready to go in short order. We walked downtown and our first stop was watching one of the parking lots being repaved. Chef seemed very taken by it all. We talked about what steps were involved in the paving. Chef had just told me that he wondered how the new asphalt felt when one of the workers walked over with a pail and spewed water across the new surface. Chef seemed pretty impressed with the steam that rose up. We walked for awhile and chatted, took some photos, went to the bank, went to the post office to pick up some 3D glasses to watch a tv documentary Chef wanted to see about Queen Elizabeth, stopped for a tea/coffee break where Chef immediately immersed himself in reading the papers, then went over to the library. Chef researched the nutritional value and uses of dandelions, recipes, and had just started looking at WWII sites when his computer time was up. He then read for a bit before we headed back outside. We walked and took more photos and talked. Chef shared anxieties he'd been experiencing throughout the first week at school; hazing ("They talk about it every day over the intercom, so I can tell they're expecting it to happen, and I'm just a small guy so I can't protect myself if someone gets me"), crowds/noise in the hallways ("I try to walk way over to the side and try to get into a room as fast as I can"), getting lost ("I get confused and there are lots of stairs and hallways"), feeling alone and scared ("It's a really big place and I don't know what to do if I don't have an adult with me"). The school and I had been communicating through the day and Chef's resource teacher told me that Chef had also been frustrated when he couldn't independently go online in one of his classes on Thursday (being independently online is an earned privilege/responsibility in our family) and that there had been an unexpected change in EA's Thursday morning.
Chef also told me that when he goes into his room and refuses to come out, it's because he doesn't want to hurt anyone or damage anything. Wow!! Huge huge kudos went to him for his insight and self-discipline in keeping himself and his family and his environment safe all those times, and for sharing that with me!
We talked about how I had misinterpreted him being in his room as being "on strike" and trying to get "his own way" by refusing to do anything, then talked about the great self-control he's been showing and how great it was that he had communicated that to me. We also talked a bit about recognizing balance between taking time for what he needs to do for self-control and the time he needs for other things (eating, preparing for the next day, enjoying time with family and friends, hobbies, etc) and how sometimes it takes time to find that balance while still living with the natural consequences of time not waiting for what needs to be done otherwise.
Chef's support worker who usually picks him up after school now on Mondays picked him up around 1:00 and they spent the afternoon together. Chef had told me at one point that he wants to sweep the parking lot on Mondays at one of the local shops from where he's stolen. He and his support worker set that up then hung out at the library.
Chef was in great space throughout the evening. He did a couple chores (not dishes, I'm too tuckered for that today!) and completed them quickly, then watched the documentary and part of the movie (The Queen) that followed. At 9:30 he said he was too tired to stay awake anymore and went up to bed.
An all-around very nice day!
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.