Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Keeping up with the times

"Downstairs, please."

Our older son has started kicking me out of his bedroom. He's ten years old. He has stuff to do, and it doesn't involve me. What's more, my repertoire for things to do with him is dwindling.

I think he can tell.

He came home from school the other day with a reading comprehension exercise that he did in speech therapy. It was on yellow fever. He answered the questions in a "yes" or "no" fashion with 100 % accuracy--that is, until he was ready to goof off, and then he offered a "yes" answer to everything that was asked.

That's OUR SON I'm talking about, the low verbal kid who last year couldn't even tolerate the other kids in his classroom. All of his subjects were delivered to him in a private sensory room. Who knew what was reaching him then, but, apparently something was. Because, here he is now, a year later, answering questions about yellow fever.

Do you want to know what Santa put in his stocking? A book on nursery rhymes.

He has had an explosion in development this year. His ship is sailing, and I'm being left at the dock. It happened practically over night. Sitting before me is my very own child, and sometimes--a lot of the time--I know very little about him as a person.

Take a look at the toys in his room.

Some have been his very favorites.

Some line the sides of his bed.

One has not left his side for most of his life.

The toys he has sitting on shelves and in bins are the same toys he had when he was a baby. Once, when he was young, I cleared away his toys without discussion at the advice of his therapists. The idea was to remove the light/sound/stimming toys that were keeping him from developing and moving on to higher level toys.

I loved all of our therapists, but this was one piece of advice--perhaps the ONLY piece of advice among hundreds--which I regret. In a single night, his favorite things disappeared, and he didn't have the language to ask where they went. It made him sad, and it made him fearful that all his treasured things would disappear.

We have battled against that decision ever since. Our son missed his toys. He became a bundle of nerves about his possessions, and he became depressed. I understand the theory behind taking the toys; however, in the end, our son is a person with thoughts and feelings. We failed to validate that.

Over the years, we slowly began rebuilding his collection. All but two toys remain. He still asks for those two items to this day. However, for the most part, he doesn't play with any of these toys anymore.

Yet, here they sit. For comfort.

He is answering questions at school about world geography, checking accounts, tsunamis and yellow fever, but at home, his room is peppered with star stackers and Leap Frog toys. At toy stores, he visits these toys and becomes quickly bored.

He's ready for the next step. What a blessed quandry with which to be faced, it's true.

I don't know that I ever expected to be here. I didn't want to pressure him or send a message to him that I preferred another pace of development to his own. At some point, we stopped hovering over him, the micro managing stopped and we gave him room to simply be.

And, if "being" meant that he'd live life as a nonverbal person, then that's okay.

If "being" meant that his best friend in life would be a vacuum, then that's okay.

Lol. I suppose it is rather typical to teach your child to fly only for that child to discover that he enjoys the freedom.

So, I'll back off a little more. But that doesn't mean that I like it. Besides, I need the extra time to figure out what I'm going to do about the toy situation in this house...


  1. I am very new to your blog, but I really admire you for sharing your daily struggles/joys with us...You are giving such a wonderful insight into what life is like as a parent of special needs children, and you write with such an unassuming, positive attitude! I feel like I have already learnt alot ~ thankyou :o)

  2. You've just given me the ultimate compliment. Thank you so much.

  3. Another insightful, humorous, touching post. Just a reminder that we never can quite keep up with, let alone see the future, of our kids' development! Sounds like your son is making great strides.

  4. How interesting about the toys disappearing one day and the effect it had on him. There are some decisions I have made regarding my kids in my past that I wished I would have done different, but we correct it the best we can and move on. You are a very "special mom."

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Though many of your parenting experiences are different than mine were, the heart of motherhood is exactly the same, no matter which children we've been given. You do motherhood proud.

  6. I love reading your comments. Thank you all. Not only are you a great support but I also walk away with something new--something another special needs family does differently or maybe a different perspective on my situation from a "typical" parent. I always appreciate that.

  7. I love visiting your blog and reading about your daily struggles and experiences. It is hard to watch our babies grow up, and sometimes they never cease to amaze!