So where are things at otherwise....
Chef continues to do a good job at cooking. He was even garnishing for awhile but isn't any longer. He does tend to forget some things if he hasn't prepared a certain food for awhile. He doesn't access his notebook or written information that he needs, but will now check the cooking instructions for rice without issue when reminded; there had been some sort of rice problem a few weeks back. I haven't been teaching him any new skills recently, but we'll be working on some holiday items together.
Chef's interest/skills in origami have resurfaced following a Christmas party at an art gallery where one of the activities was to make origami decorations for the gallery's tree.
Chef is getting top marks in science this year, and has been bringing home gifts of art for me. Chef continues to be a voracious reader, and is strong in computer skills at school.
Chef is able to talk about nutritional information and some environmental effects of choices we make.
This year, Chef seems to be developing more interest in appropriate self-development rather than aiming for "clown" or "cool" mode. I don't know if this is true at school as well.
There was a time when Chef would go outside in the winter without outerwear to tantrum. He would go onto the deck and stand or sit on the deck and immediately start whining/foghorning/yelling about how cold he was. If I opened the door and held out his jacket and reminded him to put it on, he would either grump and turn away then return to whining/foghorning/yelling or take the jacket and throw it into the yard or onto the deck, then return to whining/foghorning/yelling. Chef now puts on his outerwear before going outside. **Also, Chef has now been wearing boots rather than sandals since the second snowfall. He did put on his sandals that morning and started running out to the bus but he did come back and put on his boots when I kept calling him back and holding out his boots. He has also been wearing socks since last week.
If I remain in the same room as Chef, he does a good job at any chore on his list. He will still try different "games" with dishes though, and it feels as though he just likes the attention and diversion of having someone sitting there.
Chef will do pretty much anything that is asked of him (as long as it is not something that he deems to be a chore); make tea, take out a diaper, carry in groceries and unload them, carry bags, cook, shovel snow, etc., etc., etc., and indpendently does a good job of it. If I tell him to put down the hot sauce bottle because he's using a lot, he immediately puts it down. If I ask him to remove his socks to make sure he hasn't hidden anything inside them, he immediately removes them without issue (I guess this might be different if he'd actually hidden something hidden in his sock).
This weekend after Chef's tantrum, I wondered how Chef would have responded if I'd asked him to come in and make some tea while he was in mid-tantrum. I have a sense that he might have stopped and come in and made tea. There have been times when he is tantrumming on the deck and his sister has opened the door and asked him to take a bag to the recyling bin for her, and Chef has stopped his tantrum, said "ok," and quietly run the bag to the bin then resumed his tantrum when he returned to the deck. Maybe enough of those types of disruptions would be beneficial; of course, the other side is that he would then be expecting folks to "fix" his tantrum, and he'd be getting additional attention. At any rate, Chef does do whatever he's asked as long as it's not something he views as a chore.
Coming along nicely. Awkwardness is not as noticeable this year.
Chef still doesn't seem to be at all concerned about hygiene. If he does care about hygiene, it doesn't show. Once in awhile he will brush his teeth. He still seems to have no concern regarding his clothing, nor any interest in replacing the clothing items that have "disappeared."
Chef has independently started keeping jugs in his room to urinate in them during the night. I'm ok with that; it solves his "I don't feel like walking to the bathroom" issue and lets me sleep better at night without waking to him getting up then having to make sure he returned to his room afterwards. The concern is in getting him to remove the jugs from his room once they are full. He does not do this on his own, and resists when reminded to remove them. He doesn't keep them tucked away, they're out in the open. Sometimes he removes the caps to put various items into the jugs.
As long as "problem" food is locked up and Chef is consistently monitored, food is not an issue. We are able to keep canned goods in the cupboards but have to keep the can opener hidden or Chef will eat canned goods in the washroom or while doing dishes. Uncooked pasta now seems to be ok to have in the kitchen without being eaten. I had put spices away for awhile but have reintroduced most back into the kitchen without issue. The food in the fridge is generally just produce, eggs, and leftovers, none of which seem to be a concern. Bananas still cannot be kept in the kitchen. Any jam or jelly or anything else that is sweet or dessert-like has to be hidden away in the fridge or will be sneakingly removed and emptied when Chef discovers it. Cooked/leftover meat is not safe in the freezer; Chef will sneak it out and eat it. We have actually had a loaf of bread in the freezer for about two weeks now. This amazes me. Those who have read through my blog know my son's focus on bread if it's around.
A couple weeks ago, my daughter put english muffins in the back of the freezer under other items. When she couldn't find them, Chef told her that he'd thrown them out for her because he thought he saw some mould on them. I informed Chef that they wouldn't get mould on them from being in the freezer.
Last week we had stale bread from a french loaf my daughter had bought, and toast that was completely blackened on one side from being forgotten under the broiler. I tossed it around the yard for the birds. When Chef went out to shovel, he picked the bread out of the snow and ate it.
We do not have items such as frozen waffles, prepackaged/ready-to-eat food. If we did, I have no doubt that Chef would be focussing on those.
Before Chef goes upstairs, I always check the stairs and have Chef do a personal check to make sure he's not stashing anything. There is never an issue around Chef doing a check, he just does it. Chef will still occasionally sneak through the house for food, but very rarely compared to times in the past.
Because Chef does not (or takes weeks/months to) do chores to earn money to repay items he's stolen, the immediate consequence is that Chef is informed that the type of item he's taken will no longer be available for a long time because he has too much difficulty with having it in the house.
This seems to have been effective for the time being, evidenced by Chef no longer eating spices and by Chef sneaking less food into the washroom or under/into the sink, etc. to eat while doing dishes.
(MORE TO FOLLOW...)
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.