Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Letting Go
I guess right now I am trying to play catch up here and think about what has happened in the last year in our family. Naturally, I first think about my son, because he does set me apart as a mother from most others that I know.
Ironically, not as much as you probably think , but more than most think they could handle.But they are wrong, they could handle it just fine.
Riley will be 11 two weeks from today.
He is a tall and lean kid who is constant motion. Not in the ADHD type of motion and not in an annoying get into trouble kind of way either. Just busy and engaged in the world around him. In fact, many of those couch and mouse potato kids you hear so much about today could take a few lessons from him. And if I would just follow him around for a few months, I would quickly morph into a thinner version of my own self.
I think one big lesson I have learned in the last year is how to let go and also how to appreciate the hanging on.
When you have a child with different needs, it takes a while to really grasp what that means and a realistic view of the present and the future. I mean really take a good long unblinking look at it. This takes a few years, not a few minutes or days or weeks. But a few years really. Or more than a few. And it should. On good days or weeks or months you will think, well maybe we are all wrong about the impact of his issues. And in bad stretches you again will think, maybe we were wrong about the impact of his issues. And then one day you realize that reality lies somewhere in the middle, which translates to mean ya just don't know and predicting most things about the future are just impossible.
I learned this year that one of his most "on my last nerve" habits is really one of the Golden Tickets in autism. This is his echolalia. Ya know that constant repeating of dialoge or conversations or questions or just words or phrases. Like how he askes me about 100 times a day, what day it is? or what day is tomorrow? or what grade a certain friend is in? or who are his teachers? I chose a path of answering, ignoring, asking him the question or giving a silly answer. Mixing up my responses is my way of staying sane. Then a few weeks ago I read an amazing report that kids with autism that do not exhibit echolalia have the toughest time ever really grasping language communication. That echolalia is the key to learning to communicate and a natural step in language development. The researcher tells us that if our child has echolalia to rejoice and embrace it , because it is the key to continuing social interaction and language maturation. Well, now that puts a whole new spin on things. And funny how knowing that has totally taken all the annoyance out of it.
I learned a very valuable lesson that day. Just a little change in how I view certain behaviors that my son has can totally change everything. It doesn't change the issue but it can really lighten the load of it on the rest of us. That really gave me a sense of power. That just by changing my mind I can change my environment or rather my response to it. And since my reaction is different, I just don't notice it near as much. WOW, now to me that is big.
The other big new thing this year is that have learned to let go a little. This means that I do not have to be with him all the time or most of the time. That the lessons we have taught him, he has actually learned. And isn't that what all parent's goal is with their kids. My first lesson in this began in June. A year ago my Step Dad retired and they moved about 6 minutes from us. Thus began a very wonderful relationship between him and my son. When school was out, he asked one Friday if Riley wanted to go run some errands with him. I was so surprised and excited and NERVOUS!!!! and my first instinct was to say NONONONONONONOO!!!!!!!!
What if he got upset, had a meltdown, ran out into the parking lot or, God Forbid, embarrassed him. So I would not have to be the bad guy, I asked my son if he wanted to go off with Pa Richard, just knowing he would give his stock answer of "No, I want to say with my Mom" which is what he usually said. Then I heard him say "OK, Go with Pa Richard". I do not know what hit the floor first- My heart or My Jaw.
I remembered the quote I have posted on my fridge that reads
"Instant Availability without continuous presence is probably that best role a mother can play"
So off he went. This was big.
I mean really BIG!
They went to the Bank and Books A Million.
They went to eat lunch at Red Robin. A nice sit down, order off the menu restuarant.
Without me. My 10 year old has left the building with nary a parent in sight.
The one who orders for him, puts ketchup on his burger. Cuts it in half.
Me. Who makes sure he doesn't just eat his french fries. Or drink 3 cokes.
I was at home conjuring all kinds of scenarios. Ashamedly, none of them good.
About 2 1/2 hours later they return home and he skips inside, off to play.
I hear my Step Dad tell him "See ya Next Friday", "OK Pa Richard" he yells in return.
He tells me everything was just fine and this will be there weekly thing.
I had tears in my eyes and a song in my heart.
Maybe just maybe this is that small light that parents of special kids are always looking for.
This did continue all summer.
The gratefulness I have toward his grandfather cannot be put into words.
I learned that it is not only the gift of someone else reaching out their arms to my son.
It is also my letting go.
The world is out there. Everyday of his life we have worked to teach him to live in it.
There comes a time when ya have to see just what he has learned.
And, he has learned a lot.
Next we will talk abour Middle school.


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