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.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Chef has often explained to me that his "brain just doesn't think of stuff." It hasn't been long since Chef finally started accessing a list of other things to do during his downtime besides sleeping, but even that hasn't been happening for very long, nor is it consistent. His list isn't long yet, mostly because he seems unable to think of activities to add to the list but also because when we discuss list options, it takes much prompting before he'll actually write something down.
One of the things that Chef tends to do in the evenings is to sit in the living room wrapped with his blanket and play with the tag on his blanket. Usually I prompt him within a couple of minutes to shift to another activity. Tonight I decided to glance at the clock and not offer any prompts at all, just to see how long Chef would continue to sit and do nothing other than play with the tag. I was curious whether he would tire of it and would move on to another activity on his own. Twenty two minutes later, I couldn't keep quiet anymore and asked Chef if there was anything else he could think of to do other than playing with the tag on his blanket. Twenty two minutes. 22 - and who knows how long it would have continued had I not said anything. These are the types of things that many people don't seem to understand about Chef because they see him in different environments where the flow of his day is led by school schedules, what other people are doing, etc. Left to his own, however, it's a very different world.
The bulk of Chef's unprompted activities now involve napping, relaxing in the tub, and reading in the living room. It's a far cry from the not-very-long-ago days when Chef's downtime goal was to sleep away as much time as possible. I'm happy to report that this winter Chef did something remarkable - he built a snow fort! On his own! One day while waiting for the school bus, he just started building a fort all on his own. He worked on it almost every morning for 20-30 minutes! Every day when he came home from school at noon, he'd give his snow fort update and would frequently look out the window throughout the afternoon and evening to check his fort. One evening he even went out on his own to work on the fort! I realize this may not sound like much to some folks - but for Chef to be doing something like that on a regular basis, and something that was of his own initiative, is truly heartwarming and nothing short of remarkable.