Archive | February, 2011

The simple request my son made that I’ll never forget

My son had a really rough night last night, and tough day today as well with the flu. I’ll spare you the gory details, let’s just say that we didn’t get much sleep and he didn’t eat anything today.

As the day unfolded, I continually went over in my head the next blog post that I would make about how he has never been the “sucky” type when sick, quite the contrary. He tends to just shut down, get mellow and do nothing all day. Sometimes we don’t even know he’s sick except that he’s not doing anything.

But as I prepared my boys for bed, something trumped all of that. The hours and hours I had been writing and rewriting in my head were gone in an instant and replaced with what I am writing right now. I was that surprised by it.

I am one of the very fortunate parents that does get regular hugs and kisses from his children, even though one of them has Autism. Rather than what you would call a “regular” hug and kiss though, I get them in patterns. I wrote about it here. This has become a part of our nightly routine… get them a small glass of chocolate soy milk, read a story or watch a later episode of Cat in the Hat and then off to bed, hugs, kisses and goodnight.

Tonight, because Cameron has the flu, I had to say no. Cameron stood up in his bed and said “don’t forget hugs and kisses!” and I had to say no.. not tonight. It’s most likely that he’s shared it with the family already but it’s still not wise to take the chance so I had to tell him that being sick means getting no hugs and kisses.

His arms dropped to his sides and he said “can I touch you? please? hold my hand?”

At that moment, anything else I had planned to write faded away. I had to write about this. But I never did come up with adequate words to express exactly how hearing those words made me feel.

Honestly… I had no idea just how important that was to him. For all the parents out there that seldom or even never get that kind of physical contact, here was my son pleading with me to not be denied it.

I took his hand, told him make sure he doesn’t breath on me… and pulled him up for a giant sized bear hug.

Flu or not. I’ll never deny him a hug again.

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This is how my son shows compassion in an Autistic way

When Cameron was 1, we took him to McDonalds because that’s just what parents do… children love that place, right? Well, it proved to be a complete fail. We didn’t even know he had Autism then but he knew it… he refused to eat anything they had and refused to join in with the other children in the Play Place. He enjoyed watching the other children play but didn’t really get in there.

We didn’t take him back for a long time after that… until his younger brother was old enough.

Fast forward a few years, Cameron is now 5 and his little brother (Tyler) is 3 and we felt it would be a good time to give it another try. Suffice to say, this time it went far better. We brought food for Cameron, Tyler will eat just about anything there. And they both played in the Play Place. They had a blast!

Yesterday we went again and while they played, I noticed a boy back inside the restaurant with his mom… his name is Jack. He was in Cameron’s class last year but not this year. He was also the one boy that Cameron identified with most last year.

Jack is almost double Cameron’s age, and quite a bright child but also what you would consider lower functioning. I was unsure whether or not they’d even allow it but I went back into the restaurant to say hi and mention that Cameron would love it if Jack would come play with him in the Play Place.

They got up and came in with us… Cameron was so very happy to see him. But they were so awkward looking… like they didn’t even know how to say hi to each other.

It was very obvious that the loud, echo filled, brightly coloured, children filled room was too much for Jack as he paced back and forth on his tip toes and flapping his arms… his mother was not concerned. I asked if he’s ok as he passed by, he said yes and kept going…

What impressed me most was that Cameron stopped going into the slides to play… he stayed with Jack. He didn’t talk to Jack, he didn’t pace… he just sort of hung around and waited.

When Jack felt ready, he approached Cameron and together they both when inside and popped out at the bottom of a slide together. Jack went straight back to stimming… Cameron went right back to waiting.

I was so very proud of my boy. He didn’t ask if he was ok, or try to console him, he didn’t even approach him… but he waited.

Again, Jack was ready and off they went and appeared down the slide once again. This time Jack had a great smile on his face as he went back to stimming.

Tyler went with them when they went but he didn’t stick around to wait. He was up and down those slides while Cameron waited.

Boys in a bubble

Boys in a bubble

All 3 of them ended up at the end of one of the tunnels at one point, together. I got a picture but all you can see is Jack’s red sweater.

As it came time to go, I left feeling very proud of Cameron. He was extremely shy about me approaching Jack, he was extremely shy about saying hi and he was extremely shy about talking to Jack when Jack was clearly needing to take some time to himself.

But he was patient and he was there for him. He didn’t leave Jack behind, he didn’t give up on him.

Cameron talked about Jack the rest of the day. He was just so very happy that Jack was there. Even though it meant only going back into the thing 3 times when he could have done so much more… he was just so happy to have a friend with him.

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The follow through. When disciplining, stick to your guns

One of the more challenging things to do is discipline your children… book stores and libraries could fill entire sections just with books on the subject, there’s just so many opinions, methods, taboos and other topics to be aware of.

The one aspect that almost all agree on, and is also the most tricky to accomplish, is following through with your threats.

For example, my boys would not go to sleep once in bed… I can’t keep separating them, I can’t let them stay up late and make life harder for their teachers at school due to them being over tired… what do I do?

Well, I certainly can’t threaten them with much in the here and now… it’s bed time, they have pj’s on, they’re in bed. What can I take away? What kind of time out could I give them?

The most obvious thing to do is to threaten to take away something they like for the next day… in my boy’s case, television, video games, treats… it’s different for every child as every child has something different they really love.

What ever it is that you decide upon, you must follow through. It doesn’t matter if you threaten to take away their favourite hat or their will to live.. what ever it is, you better stand firm on that the next day and remind them what you said, what they did and why you have no choice but to take it away.

All children are smart, all children are clever… they will learn very quickly what an empty threat is if you make one. If you threaten to take away treats the next day, you better do it.. no matter what happens that next day.

In the case of a child with Autism, it’s doubly true because depending on how exactly Autism affects your child (everyone is different), there’s a good chance that the one time that you cave, will be the one and only time that is retained with any clarity. What I am trying to say is, they’ll forget the 6 times you held firm and remember the 1 time you didn’t.

As you can imagine, something like that would make all future threats of discipline a very futile task, and they’ll tell you that too. “Go to sleep or I’ll take away tv all day tomorrow.” will be met with “No! No taking away tv tomorrow! I will watch tv so there!”

You don’t have to be ruthless, you don’t have to threaten to take away much really… so long as you stick to your guns. If you say it, you had better mean it. Because if you have no intention on following through, you’ll only be making things harder for yourself from there on out.

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