Baby, I’m Amazed

We’ve been keeping up with the #keystoindependence challenge, and I have to say in the short time we’ve begun, I have already learned so much about my son.

12933009_738098856325388_789378537205830466_nOn day 2, when I was teaching him about fire safety, I was amazed at how little he knew about what to do in a fire. I know that in his nine years in school, they have had various fire safety discussions, assemblies, etc. But The Boy pretty much had no clue about first feeling the door, and crawling to avoid smoke. Then I was blown away again by how quickly he learned it, and retained it. When The Man got home, I asked The Boy to tell him what he learned, and he did. When I asked him to tell Grammy & Poppy what he learned the next day, he did. No repetition was necessary, no flashcards… Just role play. Amazing.

Yesterday, we tackled changing a lightbulb. I showed him where we keep them and how to check to see if it’s a good bulb or not by shaking it. We went to the office and found a lamp that wasn’t being used. I showed him how to unscrew the bulb, and screw the new one in. I asked him to try and he hesitated to touch either bulb because he thought they were hot. I had to convince him that they were both cold – he had just seen me touch both of them, but still thought he might get burned.

I think as parents we assume our kids know a heck of lot more than they actually do. I think some of us still don’t realize we are the adults, and it is our job to adult now, and teach our kids how to do the same. I think all of this is human nature. I think that’s why we need to challenge ourselves a bunch. I thought this month would be about me teaching The Boy necessary skills, and it is. But he is teaching me so much more, as usual. ❤

Keys to Independence: A Challenge

Recently, Grammy & Poppy left town for a few days, and rather than disrupt The Boy’s routine, we planned for him to still go to their home after school to hang out until The Man or I could come to pick him up. In preparation for this, I had a spare key made, thinking I would give it to The Boy, show him how to work the lock, and let him practice for a few days. Except that the key I had made didn’t work, and when I attempted to show him, he got frustrated lightning-quick, and didn’t want to try anymore.

We resolved that situation another way, but it has me thinking about all of the things a 14 year old on the spectrum should be practicing for the day when he has a bit more independence. You see, we are both tired after our long days of work, and I don’t push too much at home, especially during the week. Weekends, I ask a little more, and now and then there are certain chores he helps me do. But I know we could do so much more, and work on that lightning-quick frustration level, too.

Planner nerds and Bullet Journal Junkies often have monthly challenges, and the idea is to take something you’d like to practice, like doodling or hand lettering, and do it each day with a guided prompt. You commit to the challenge, you do the prompts, and you share with a special hashtag on social media (and lots of people miss days, or get “caught up” later if they get behind – no worries). I’ve been thinking about doing an Independence Skills Challenge for the month of April, which also happens to be Autism Awareness Month. There will be a list of “prompts,” or specific independence skills to encourage each day or couple of days. I will share more details next week, and I would love it if you would join us with your own kiddos (on the spectrum or not!), but I’m excited, even if The Boy and I are the only ones doing it.

Keys to Ind Chall

Luck

I was chatting on Facebook with a cousin of my dad’s whom I don’t know altogether well, and he said he had been following my posts about autism, in particular a link to this post, describing how much of a struggle some parents of children on the spectrum face every day.  He said he hadn’t realized how bad it could be, and hoped we didn’t face those kinds of challenges.

I filled him in a bit on The Boy, and how well he’s done in his new program, and predictably (albeit sweetly), he said how lucky The Boy was to have such a strong advocate for a mom.

The truth is, I am the lucky one to have The Boy.

I look at him every day, amazed that this boy is mine, that he has half my genes, that he has grown so big and so clever and so funny.  That he has grown into this fascinating human being with moods and thoughts and interests ranging from cars to space to recording and sound editing.  That he is so capable, and so vulnerable, yet so strong himself to be on the spectrum and deal with all of his challenges with fairly little complaint.

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I just wish I could know him better.  I wish I could communicate with him more easily about his deep thoughts and feelings (as if he would, pre-teen that he now is).  I wish I understood him better, and I feel like I have failed him when I can’t understand something he is trying to make me understand.

I love this boy of mine, more than I ever thought a human being was capable of loving, and the bonus is that I like him, too.  I wrote recently about everyone falling in love with him, and most people who get to know him end up knowing he is a great kid.  The kind of kid it is easy to be strong for.  My job is simple, and I’m the lucky one.