I need to start doing push-ups!

We went out with J yesterday, just a quick trip to Target and then grocery shopping at Hy-Vee. J did an excellent job listening and behaving at both places. I was very proud of him.

Taking J out by myself isn’t something I’m very comfortable with doing anymore. Besides to his therapy sessions and a trip to the local public library, we are homebodies. I can’t even recall the last time J and I went on a shopping trip or fun outing just the two of us.

There’s several reasons for this. One, I’ve unfortunately become J’s punching bag so two, when meltdowns occur I have to have all my wits about me to read his emotions and hopefully block any aggression that comes my way which leads to three, this isn’t something I want to go through with all eyes upon the chaos of J in a public setting.

Yes I know, I shouldn’t care what other people think of me and J but I do. Along with the additional fact that if and when J were to have a meltdown, I can’t control or contain him myself. It would take every ounce of my being to handle him. Been there, done that, can’t do it again.

It’s exhausting. Not only physically but mentally. I’ve come to realize I’m hyper vigilant with J. I’m always at the ready, watching J and everyone else too. I’m always preparing myself for a possible meltdown, when and where will it happen? I’m always reading J for clues of how he is taking it all in, internally and externally, sensory wise. I’m watching others who watch J, it can be both disconcerting and amusing at times. I’m always making sure J is within an arm’s grasp if he isn’t already holding someone’s hand or that I have good running shoes on should he run off. I also have a different purse I have to wear when I go out with J so I can have both hands available at all times.

It’s no wonder I’m usually ready for a nap after we get home from an excursion with J. My shoulders usually hold the tension for awhile afterwards, and I wonder if this will ever end but worry if I let my guard completely down the unmentionable will happen. Maybe over time as he gets older, can understand when we tell him to stay close and does so without issue, or I become more trusting of others to let him out of my site, will this everlasting state of being ready fade a little. Till then he is only 7 and has much more to learn, myself included.

I’m grateful that they are days for therapy followed by a trip to the library for good behavior, they are our safe zones. I’m grateful for my mom that spends a day with us each week so we can get out and about, as I’ll have her help if J has any issues. Plus hanging out with her just because is always a plus. And I’m most grateful for my husband for taking the brunt of the work when we go out with J. Handling J can be a lot of work or at least it is for me. Lance has a more calming element about him than I do when J is a having issues, I think J can read into my anxiety. Lance also has more and bigger muscles than I do, maybe something I should work on.

Better get some push-ups in before it’s wine time.

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Our Autism Is…Age 7

Our autism is…

One-on-one support and supervision at all times, both school and at home, because he needs it not because we are helicopter parents.

But this fact comes with the realization and beginning of J needing, wanting his independence. This has become a norm these past few weeks when J escapes to his bedroom to be alone in the afternoons. It’s definitely a sign of him getting older.

Is technically still nonverbal, though his sign language skills grow with words that allow him to communicate his needs and through his augmented communication device as well. Lots of learning on both his and our parts to come in the years ahead.

Still loves Disney and other animated movies with a passion the puts his mother’s reading obsession to shame.

Dressing, tying shoes, brushing teeth, putting on a coat, buckling and unbuckling from the car still requires all hand-over-hand assistance with additional prompts to stay on task.

Middle of the night wake up calls, usually 3 to 5 times a week. He may play in his room or with luck on our side go back to sleep relatively quickly with a little cajoling.

Loves when others, especially Lance or myself, make goofy or funny noises or enunciation with words. He’ll giggle a giggle that is contagious.

Loves swinging but needs assistance as he hasn’t learned how to kick his feet out for momentum. But this is okay, gives me time spent interacting positively with him.

Having to walk hand-in-hand everywhere. This is a great learning curve for J who doesn’t understand about danger, dangers in a parking lot, dangers alongside the road or the importance of staying with us when shopping. He is still of the mind frame of wanting what he wants when he wants it without consideration for the world that revolves around him.

Not yet potty trained…woe is me. Still have to purchase a box of Goodnight pull-ups each week. If you see coupons, please send to me or wine coupons are the equivalent.

IPad time is still a necessity. He loves having his iPad time for PBS Kids or his movie, preferring it to watching them on the TV. As iPad time is managed, he has become a lot better at giving it up for a break because he now understands he’ll get it back again later. Huge cognitive skill learned.

But not so much with traffic stop lights now. He has started to become upset, at times inconsolable, when we have to wait at a lighted intersection. Therefore we are constantly explaining to him that we have to wait for the lights to turn green because then we can go. It can be a bit overwhelming, but we’re hoping he learns quickly.

As with all aspects of autism, it is a spectrum. As with all aspects of being human, we are changing. Therefore, J like everyone but on a so much more wider plane is evolving at a his own pace with little consideration for what society feels he should. He’s the strongest person I know to be able to do that, to not give a care for what others may think of him.