parents

Interactions.

It’s been some time since I have sat here, at my computer, alone. It’s nice. Time to gather and get out many thoughts I have been having about a big subject; INTERACTION.

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Woodfield Parking Garage

IT’S TIME FOR ME TO SHUT UP. I didn’t realize how much I fill in the “empty” spaces in conversation or explain behavior when Jasan is communicating with other people. If he is having a meltdown of some sort in a store and someone that may be nearby makes eye contact with me, I whisper, “He has autism.” It makes ME feel better. Basically, I need the other person to understand that I am not a shitty parent and that’s WHY he is acting out. I blame it on the autism. I know, I know. I should’t care what anyone else thinks. But damn! That is really hard to do when it feels like you have a hundred judgmental people giving you the evil eye while your child is hitting or yelling at you; especially times when I have been on the floor trying to restrain him. That brings looks for sure.

As he is getting older, I have been more aware of my behavior when it comes to these situations. I make a point to keep this thought forefront in my mind:

“The people around me don’t matter. My son does. He needs ME and my CALM voice. He needs me to be 100% present for him in this moment.”

It’s been working very well for me. The awesome thing? It’s interesting when I keep my cool and focus how many parents walk up to me and say, “I get it. You are a great mom. Don’t worry; it will get better.” Wow. Talk about different energy attraction! When someone says kind words in a moment of stress, it takes that uncomfortable feeling away. It confirms that I am doing the right thing for my boy. What’s better than that?

Most recently, with Jasan’s elevator obsession, we have been frequenting many different buildings. I give him a time frame and let him do his thing to his heart’s content. The interaction that goes on between him and others in the elevators is fun, but also not so much at times. As happy as he is in an elevator, there is a level of anxiety that also occurs for him. He gets very wound up and on edge. It’s hard to explain. Almost as if he can’t control his excitement, but certain chime sounds or the impending “nudge mode buzz” (when the door has been open too long and an alarm sounds) scare him to death. He will cover his ears and push buttons with his elbows when he thinks nudge mode may happen. People stare at him strangely. (This type of moment is my usual cue to mouth to other people “he is autistic.”)

But guess what?

His mama is not going to be standing over his shoulder all of his life helping people understand his sometimes odd behavior. He is growing up and the “he’s a cute little guy and no one cares if something seems off” effect is slowly working it’s way out of situations. Now he may just be the strange kid.

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Ikea

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Woodfield Macy’s

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Springhill Macy’s

We have been a good team, I have to say. I am a really quick with comments to ease situations. I have surprised myself in that regard; I never thought I had that in me. He says something that makes no sense to anyone (but him and me,) and then I say something witty and people laugh. It all makes sense then. My embarrassment (which I hate to say even exists) goes away.

I don’t like saying that I am embarrassed of him (sometimes) because I totally, completely love who he is. Difference is, now I am getting used to being quiet. The buffer of opening my mouth so that other people understand the whole picture, is now gone. He doesn’t need a “team” anymore. He is 7 years old, and he must learn how to deal with people on his own. If they don’t understand and give him an off-putting look, then so be it. (He most likely won’t care in the slightest.) On the other hand, he can soak in the compliments from people who think he is the cutest “elevator man” ever. He is so polite and courteous; asking which floor that they are going to and letting them know he is pushing the door open button when they come in and go out.

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Ikea

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Ikea

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Ikea

One of the traits of autism is echolalia (repeating.) He used to copy my language before he was able to have conversations. Now he memorizes, down to every little detail and sound, the elevator videos he loves to watch on YouTube. He imitates what these guys say while we take rides. I know EXACTLY what he is talking about when he does this and I am amazed at the accuracy in which he mimics these guys! It’s crazy good.

An example…there are a lot of videos he watches off of one YouTube channel and the videographer is from Sweden (but speaks English.) In Swedish, the word “elevator” translates to “hiss.” “People” translates to “personer.” These two words are all over signs in elevators in Sweden (of course.) He will use these Swedish words when talking to people and they are very confused, obviously. Again, I am used to stepping in and explaining, but I have to stop. It is just going to be weird and that’s it. I am going to sit with it and change how I feel about it!

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Woodfield Macy’s

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Woodfield H&M

New perspective: It is going to be very interesting to see how he matures and learns how to respond/share his thoughts/information with people. As he gets older, more oddness will come forth in casual chat and he will learn to navigate. His mama is a pretty good conversationalist, so I can always give him tips on the side. 😉

I am very excited to have a growing Elevator Series of Following Jasan photography. I envision an elevator fan book down the road…

*Our favorite YouTube channel is the original, very first (of now thousands) elevator videographer. Andrew Reams, aka DieselDucy. He is a great guy that has Asperger’s syndrome (which is on the Autism Spectrum.)*

Diesel Ducy’s website YouTube channel Go give his channel a like! Why not. He has a huge following of dudes like Jasan.

 

 

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Therapeutic Day School. REALLY.

 

Us.

This post has been a long time coming. (I have been absent for a while. Re-creating my love for this blog…)

Jasan started at his new school over the summer, and is now in his first full school year there. I cannot express enough how completely IMPRESSED I am by his school.

At first I was scared. Really concerned that he would hate it and have a hard time transitioning. Of course, he was fine. (I need to give him more credit! I get freaked out more than he does about these things. I love his resilience.)

I was a little nervous, but as time went on, my emotions flipped to appreciation. Amazingly, every staff member at the school, whether they are his teacher or not, KNOWS HIS NAME. There are children from ages 6 through high school! That is a lot of people. They have a monthly parent night where we are provided support. They have gone as far as thinking about the parents and their struggles too… it’s a complete family package and that means the world!

I have realized how important these types of schools are. As I learn more and more about kids with special needs, including Jasan, it is apparent that they really do need extra support. They need to learn all the details of the way the world works down to the specific steps of socialization and just learning how to “do school.”

Neurotypical kids don’t need to learn how to accept redirection. They naturally pick that up on their own. Accepting a NO. Looking people in the eye. Having boundaries. Learning how to calm their bodies and how to label and understand their own emotions. These beautiful kids need these special and amazing teachers to be on their side and help them learn and navigate through the school years. I am so thankful that Jasan is where he NEEDS TO BE.

Details…

FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Look at the person
  2. Say, “Okay.”
  3. Do the task
  4. Check back (ask “Is this what you wanted?”)

ACCEPTING FEEDBACK

  1. Look at the person
  2. Say, “Okay.”
  3. Make the correction
  4. Check back (ask “Is this what you wanted?”)

ASKING PERMISSION

  1. Look at the person
  2. Make the request
  3. Wait for an answer
  4. If granted, say “Thank you.” If not, say “Okay.”

ACCEPTING REDIRECTION

  1. Look at the person
  2. Say, “Okay.”
  3. Write the redirection
  4. Ask staff to “Please sign.”

BRINGING UP A CONCERN

  1. Ask staff for permission to bring up a concern
  2. Appropriately state your concern
  3. Accept the final decision
  4. Say, “Thank you.”

REDIRECTION CONCERN

  1. Accept the redirection
  2. Wait 5 minutes
  3. Ask staff to bring up a concern in private
  4. Accept the final decision
  5. Say, “Thank you.”

The universe has taken care of us, again. Always will.

Because my job involves working with young kids in day cares, I see a few here and there in my classes that I know need that kind of one on one support. I see autism, ADHD…just undiagnosed. I go in to different centers every day and spend short periods of time with them. I try to take extra care of those special needs kids because I know their words are different from the other children. I hope that they end up like Jasan, in schools that can offer them what they need.

This is a chapter in our journey that I am so very thankful for. I had no idea what a school with that label “Therapeutic Day School” was going to be like. I am blown away!

Jasan and Rose.

This is Jasan and his new friend Rose. They are in the same class together. I love how there is no judgement between them. They can both be their unique personalities and accept each other completely. Priceless. ❤