To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.
~William Henry Channing

Monday, September 19, 2011

Good Morning, Monday

I greet you with the hum of the washing machine, sparkling clean glass doors, freshly folded t-shirts and open windows so I can let in the gorgeous breeze. A fine way to start off the week don't you think? I had planned to start my week off getting into a routine that including the gym first thing this morning but the best laid plans yada yada. Rob took the girls in because of a meeting he had at the school and while I truly am disappointed to not exercise, I do love mornings where I'm home. I can get a lot done in the first few hours of the day that makes me feel like I have more room to accomplish things the rest of the day.
This morning I read this article my Dad sent me. It's a little lengthy but it's about adults with autism so it certainly held my interest. Plus the young man in it reminded me so much of Sam...the interest in drawing and some of his phrases could be Sam's. There is a lot of focus on autism in children but not much out there about adults on the spectrum. Sam is ten and lately I find myself looking ahead and wondering what life will be like for him as a grown up. It's hard not to be over protective with "normal" children in our world but it's especially hard with a child with autism. I don't want our protection to hold him back though and it's a fine line to gauge.
Friday night we went to a soccer game for the school. The weather was perfect and the grill was fired up with burgers. Kids were running around and playing while grown ups talked and cheered on the players. And Sam just wants to be a normal kid...he wants to run up and down the side lines and play a pick up game of football or soccer. For such a long time we had to keep him close to us because he would wander off but he's older now and we don't have to worry as much about that...he's pretty good about staying within the boundaries we give him. Now, we hesitate more because what if he can't understand and socially navigate what's going on? What if we're not there to interpret the situation for him?  What if everyone else needs help interpreting Sam? Like I said, I've been thinking a lot about the boy growing up lately so Friday night I just kind of hung back and watched him. He got into several wrestling matches with another boy and at a couple of points my instinct was to intervene to remind him of stuff like knowing when to back off or give in. But instead I talked to the other mother and she was good with it and assured me that her son would let Sam know when enough was enough. Sure enough everything was fine.
Later, he ran off to the end of the field where a group of boys were playing soccer intermixed with tossing a football around. This made me a little more nervous because these weren't kids from Trinitas. Kids from Trinitas know and love Sam and they're used to him. I followed but stayed back again to just watch and see. And let me just assure you that my boy is flat out goofy. The majority of the boys just kind of ignored him and kept playing their game but there was one little boy, Jonathon, that for some reason Sam zeroed in on. Sam waved his arms around, shook his behind and did a little jig and was talking up a storm. Jonathon looked slightly perplexed but them preceded to use the word stupid. I waited to see what Sam would do but if it bothered him it didn't show. A sweet little girl from Trinitas set poor Jonathon straight about name calling being a big no no. So he settled in and they played a soccer game of sorts. If I had to choose characters for them it would be kind of like Rabbit playing soccer with Tigger. A couple of times I reminded Sam not to use his hands but other than that I stayed out of it. After a water and food break Sam wanted to go back and play again. This time I wanted Rob to watch and as we were headed down to the end of the field Sam was telling him all about the game and Jonathon. Side note...if you are under the impression that autistic kids don't talk you are sadly misinformed. It's true that speech can and usually is delayed but the problem a lot of times is being able to communicate in a way that other people understand.  With verbal autistics you might just need an interpreter. Here's an example.
Sam: Dad, I was going to call him trash.
We interpret this knowing that Sam has translated 'talking trash' as calling someone trash literally. (Rob spent the rest of our walk talking about good sportsmanship :-)
We watched for a few minutes in silence. It kind of brought into focus the reality of where we are with Sam right now. He's growing up and what he needs from us...what we have to give him if we want him to have a happy and productive adulthood...is room to take risks. When he was little it was so easy. What he needed was so clear and defined but this, this is all uncharted territory. This part of life has a whole lot more variables and we can't control all of them. But we can't hide from them either. God has given us a boy to raise up a godly man, a warrior for Him.  And, while I'm not exactly sure what it will look like, it's time to take the next step.
Sam, being Sam, drew a comic to illustrate the proper way to be friends. (He realized his spelling mistake too late because he drew in pen.)

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