Today is Chef's official last day of Grade 10.
It's also party day at school and a festival weekend where we live. Both of these could cause the next few days to go either way, but I think I remember Chef enjoying last years town festival so hopefully that and the school party will help in getting Chef past the upcoming exam week.
Chef has been quite quiet the last few days other than regular comments about his EA going to Africa, exam week coming up, and how cool all the video games are at school. He's been wearing his bathrobe inside-out all week, even with reminders, and it is already showing signs of wear and tear even though he's only been using it a week or two. Hygiene prompts have fallen on deaf ears, and the same outfit has been worn for a week. Chef seems more tired than usual and has been sneezing.
When I asked him what he was looking forward to most about summer holidays, he first shrugged and said he didn't know. When reminded to take some time to think about the question before answering, he paused then said, "The quiet." When I asked him for more details, he said he was looking forward to not having to hear noise all day at school.
With Chef's recent interest in reading books about Autism (after watching the Temple Grandin and RainMan movies), I'm hoping his interest will continue through summer. We have tons of books in our house (though I'm trying to minimize!), including many on the medieval era (another area of interest for Chef, though he's recently developed more of an interest in greek mythology), nature, trivial facts, and various diagnoses, etc. Chef's an avid reader, but he didn't do much reading at all last summer (possibly due to my offer to pay him money for any 2 or 3 page book reports he would do on books he'd read). I'm also hoping he'll go back to strumming/experimenting on the guitar - something he was willingly doing outside last year til neighbourhood kids asked him why he was doing that. We'll try some visual art again this summer, probably focusing on watercolours since he did a cool watercolour piece before Christmas. We also have our deck plants and a plot in the community garden, and Chef's usually-eagerly-embraced role is to look for good shots when we go on photography walks.
There is a family who has signed on to do once-a-month weekend respite, but nothing's happened with that since the first weekend Chef went there at the end of April, and we haven't heard from them nor have they returned calls from Chef's worker. My married daughter and her husband usually provide 4 hours of evening respite every other week, but they will be moving to another town in summer. Finding respite providers has always been a challenge. When I worked with Community Living, there were some staff who would have been great with/for Chef, but they weren't interested in taking on respite in addition to their shifts. I'm so very thankful for the respite funding that is in place - hopefully we'll be able to find providers to match.
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.