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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Processing

I think it's time to make a second pot of coffee. Oh, dear gracious, if you all could just witness the chaos swirling around me right now you would understand that, yes, yes I simply MUST make a second pot of coffee!

Why do kids, husband and pets center all their chaos and STUFF around mom?

It doesn't matter where I sit in the house. They find me. Since it is the weekend, I've been outed from my Mom Cave so my husband can do his work. I'm sitting here on the family room couch, clicking away on my phone while trying to ignore my younger son's endless chatter of pokemon, pokemon, pokemon, pokemon and pokemon. (BTW, I ADORE the fact that my phone does not recognize "pokemon" as a word.) While he chats, he's zapping up the dog. Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark.

And then there is our older son, who has turned into The Road Runner since the conclusion of Lose The Training Wheels two days ago. He is running, literally running, out of the room and back into the room. Out. In. Out. In.

Sometimes, he crashes into an open area on the wall to feel the impact in the joints of his arms. He is a sensory mess.

And then the vacuuming. Wow, the vacuuming.

Each day after Lose The Training Wheels, he vacuumed on and off for three hours. Every day, he would come home and start working with his vacuums. Different rooms, making different sounds. Back. Forth. Back. Forth.

Right now, my life looks a little bit like this: Pokemon, bark, run in, bark, pokemon, pokemon, run out, bark, bark, bark, run in with vacuum, crash, pokemon, vacuum on, back, forth, bark, back, bark, forth, pokemon, vacuum off, run out, bark, run in and crash...

It's a circus. My husband thinks he put on his invisibility cloak and sneaked out into the garage, but I saw him. One less thing to handle right now is fine by me, anyway. lol.

I put the dog outside and reminded our younger son that he was writing his Christmas list for his grandparents--all pokemon toys, of course. That not only silenced him but gave him handwriting practice, which he desperately needs. Sometimes, I just rock!

I sit and watch our older son for a while. He's uncomfortable in his own skin. Lose the Training Wheels, as wonderful a program as it was, was also a challenge for him. The fact that he STAYED, the fact that he PARTICIPATED, the fact that he COMPLETED the program tells us how much he enjoyed it. However, it was very hard for him.

This is our child who has but five other children in his classroom at school. Our child who, as a toddler, couldn't stand any more people than his parents in the room with him. Crowds, noise, the unexpected---it is all very difficult for him to process.

Each day, he would attend the program. Each day he responded to it differently, and that's okay. Most days, he held it together, and, in the end, HE DID IT! Then, he would go home, and just let loose. For him, letting loose means vacuuming his brains out. Pushing those beloved machines back and forth until beads of sweat formed on his forehead.

I expected this behavior to die down as soon as the program was complete, but it hasn't. Processing time is an interesting thing in people with autism. I have read where some people can process the events around them and physically react with the speed of a ninja. Yet, processing the spoken word can be very slow. Processing facts, tasks or patterns can be very high whereas emotions in relation to events can take days or even weeks.

Processing time varies among us all, yet the discrepancies are more pronounced among people with autism.

Here, in his tenth year of life, our son has shown so many emotional changes. Sadness, fear, depression, anger--he has grown to show us all of these emotions in just the past few months. I am not surprised that he is taking time this weekend to process the events and emotions of his experience with Lose the Training Wheels.

Will he return to the locations where it was held? Will he attend it next summer? Will he see his volunteers again? Can he swim in the pool located across the hall from the track? Where will he ride his bike next? CAN he ride his bike again? (It doesn't help that it has been raining since the camp ended...)

All of these are questions I bet he would like to ask. As they swirl in his head, emotions are created. He doesn't know what to do with that. He doesn't know how to feel about that. So, it all comes out in nervous, anxious energy. A LOT of nervous, anxious energy.

We pulled an all-nighter last night. He's still going strong today. Running, crashing, vacuuming. I've tried all the sensory calming tricks in the book. I think it's time to write a social story for him to calm some of his anxiety and help him process what he might be feeling.

I know that I was impacted by the wonderful events of the past week. I'm proud of my kids. I'm happy for the friends that they made. I'm happy for the friends that I made. I'm grateful to UNYFEAT for bringing this program to our area. I'm amazed at how quickly it came together. And, overall, I feel joy in the successes everyone was able to share. One can only guess how much or how little of this our son is feeling.

The lightening outside is not about to stop any time soon. However, we have a bike with brand new handlebars waiting for him to ride. I'm looking forward to getting back out there with them and watching them soar!


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