Proud

The Man and The Boy are a sight to behold.

When we end up going somewhere in two vehicles (which happens more than I’d like, but what can I do), The Boy will always choose to ride with The Man in his truck.  They talk about vehicles, and The Man makes the stupidest, corniest jokes that only 13 year-old-boys might find funny, and they crack each other up.

They don’t wrestle as much as they used to, because The Boy is quite simply too tall, and they could injure each other easily. But they are quite comfortable with each other, and it makes me smile.

The Man has learned a lot, especially in the last two years. He questioned much more at first, but now he seems to get it. He still gets annoyed, as I do, after listening to forty-five minutes of descriptions of the dome light of every known make and model of car. But he doesn’t lose his patience. He seems much more ready to understand that a meltdown is not misbehavior.

My BoysAs I write this, I am looking out our back doors, watching The Man teaching The Boy how to drive the lawn mower, while sitting up on the back of the seat because The Boy can no longer fit on his lap.

And earlier, I watched him tear up at a news story about a special needs family fighting to get treatment for their daughter. I know his perspective has changed, and I know now we are an “us”.

I am so happy for The Boy, so happy for us. And so proud of The Man.

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Sleepovers: Spectrum Style

Last Saturday, we invited The Boy’s best friend over for a sleepover.  He is on the spectrum, too, and is in The Boy’s program at school.  They get along really well together, share the same interests, and this boy just seems to get it when The Boy doesn’t answer a question or doesn’t want to do the same thing he does.

The two spent the morning at our Autism Society’s chapter’s “Friends and Fun” party, during which everyone who celebrates a birthday for that month gets to come to a church youth group center and hang out for a couple of hours.  Presents are given by the chapter, and there’re cupcakes, so it is a great way for the kids to get together without the pressure of a formal birthday party (and figuring out whom to invite).

Then I picked them up and brought them to the beach trailer that The Man and I are renovating… Have I told y’all about that?  Not yet?  Another post entirely…

They waited patiently while I put in a new window…

window work

And then The Man, the boys and I walked over to McDonald’s for some lunch and some much needed sweet tea.

Next, I drove the boys up the way a bit to a bowling alley that we had heard also had an arcade.  After getting lost twice (thank you, iPhone!), we found the place and proceeded to spend quarters on slightly beat up machines that didn’t always give us tickets.  The boys had a great time playing foosball and air hockey, and ended up with some fantastic plastic slinky bracelets that promptly broke within the next half hour.  But it was fun 😉

foosball

We stopped at Target to see if the Halloween costumes were out yet, which they weren’t, but we had a good time poking around the legos and stuff, and they were patient with me while I poked around in the office supplies, ogling washi tape.  We picked up a couple of toys for Raphael, too.

On the way back home, we stopped at a Halloween superstore, as The Boy’s friend seems to have an obsession with Halloween and the haunted house he and his parents create in their garage every year.  This superstore actually had a small haunted house setup through which you HAD to walk to get into the store.  The Boy’s friend seemed to like it and be scared by it at the same time, while The Boy was just scared.  We checked out the costumes, and I think The Boy was most traumatized by the fake boobs in one of the aisles.

We headed back to the beach trailer to see The Man’s progress and then headed over to one of the piers with a restaurant (and a great view), ate dinner, and walked out on the pier after dark.

pier at dusk

We headed home and let the boys do their thing with DSs and iPads and computers – oh my!  As The Man and I headed to bed rather early – he tired from the physical work of putting in new sub-floor by himself, and me tired from entertaining two preteens for the past 9 hours.

Let’s just say I’m glad it doesn’t happen every weekend, but I am SO glad The Boy has a friend to be able to do this with.  It’s a small slice of normal for him, and he loves it.

Boy Bonding

The Man and The Boy have a ritual.  When The Man is here (or when we are there), they have evening wrestling matches, which are entertainment for everyone in the room.  Here, we have an old futon mattress, which we use as a crash pad, and that is our “wrestling mat”.  They have three rounds of two minutes apiece, and they try to take each other down (The Man uses this time to try to teach him actual wrestling moves).  This allows them to be goofy, and have their own “thing” that The Boy looks forward to all day long.  The Boy even dresses like a luchador, complete with mask and sometimes long underwear, and this week, The Man even got into it and developed his own costume.  It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen, but I think he would kill me if I posted pictures of him, so you will have to settle for pictures of The Boy.

The Luchador

Without really knowing it, they are also providing The Boy with much needed (and craved) deep pressure, as The Boy is often hyposensitive (the type of kid who crashes into walls and loves water because s/he can’t always feel where his/her skin ends).  It’s also a fantastic way for them to relate to each other and build their own fond memories of each other.

Autism and Puberty for Boys

The Boy is 11 now, and just within the past six months or so, he has been experiencing some significant changes to his body.  He is much more private about using the bathroom and taking a shower, and I’ve been fretting about just how to talk about this stuff with him.  I’m not really an expert on the boy process, you know?  I always learned about the girl stuff in school – go figure.  And with a mostly absent dad, and a fiance whose job it really isn’t anyway, it’s left to me to explain…

A friend mentioned that The American Girl company (that makes the dolls) has an excellent book on this subject, but alas, it’s for girls – go figure.  This left me to wonder was there anything out there for boys??

Then the other day, Autism Speaks (love them or hate them, they do have awesome resources!) posted on facebook about several resources for boys with autism going through puberty.  Amazing how some things just fall in your lap at the right times.  I ordered two of the books, Taking Care of Myself by Mary Wrobel and The Boys’ Guide to Growing Up by Terri Couwenhoven.

puberty books

Taking Care of Myself is more of a curriculum resource for teachers (primarily), focusing on hygiene and puberty.  It is for both boys and girls.  I am still working through it, and will do more of a full review later, but it seems to contain social story-based text that you can use in multiple formats for your child with autism.

The Boys’ Guide to Growing Up is a much shorter book, designed to be read to or with your son with a developmental disability.  It focuses on the internal and external effects of puberty: changes to the body, and changes in feelings.  It spends a lot of time discussing the difference between public and private, and what is OK to share publicly, and what is better done in private.  It only touches on hygiene. It is written at a third grade reading level so that more boys can access the information, and it is repetitive so that main ideas are reinforced.  It also has illustrations which are appropriate.

Neither of these books talks about sexuality or intercourse, which is just fine by me!

Hygiene is starting to be an issue with us, so I think using both of these books is going to be the best bet for us.  But with The Boys’ Guide to Growing Up, I feel like I can have a conversation now with The Boy about the changes he is beginning to experience, and feel less like an idiot.

I’ll keep you posted.