Summer turned to Indian Summer, and now fully to Fall, my favorite season. “What I my learned on my summer vacation” is a stale headline as yellows and reds paint leaves on the trees. Yet lessons are always relevant and indeed vital to this Mom because they take the felt and make it real, if only as words on paper to be savored and shared. So what did this special-needs mom learn?
- Failure happens, and we survive Despite the pontification of PhD’s experts, despite the ABA mumbo-jumbo and two monthe of diligence, I failed at teaching W. to wear underwear. He’s 18 years old and truly has a will of own, despite whatever cognitive age he may be. That’s probably a good thing – even though it likely drove away a teacher/helper here. Thinking back I suppose locking the teacher in the bathroom for tens of minutes probably wasn’t an enriching job, despite the pay. The time spent on W. also meant little to no time spent working on J.’s maladptive behavior, not by design. (mom guilt, mom guilt) Yet here we are, trying it a different way now, and moving on. It led us to finging a frankly better ABA expert, and to a newfound respect for age appropriate choices by our kids – even if they are not our own.
- Self-determination wins. W. clearly stated his wishes to Go Commando. In a disorder of head-banging and self-injurious behavior when human desires can’t be expressed, at least my W. found some half-appropriate means of communicating. You kind of have to admire the gumption, despite his flawed ability to show it.
- Beauty and strength shine through. J.’s sweet and loving disposition to his brother so characterized those long afternoons spent monitoring whether Will was motivated enough to emerge from the bathroom for whatever reward was proffered. He has an amazing ability to be patient and go with the flow, even when it so violates his nature, like those 5 am rising to go on long hikes. J. also had a fabulous summer enjoying his swimming pool and new gym facility.
- Hikes of stunning beauty, as the never-ending trail carries us forward. We summited 10 of New Hampshire’s vaunted 4,000 foot or above peaks, including a mammoth 19.5 mile Traverse of the Bonds over Labor Day weekend. Full disclosure: the trek was not without its autism moments (don’t ask a man who poops every morning at 7 to forego it on a hike, or to care if 12 fellow hikers we’ve never met are sharing the moment.) And this Mom is not nearly as fast and rugged as those 18-year olds I shepherd – rather they shepherd me these days, and wait for me so patiently – particularly J. who could finish anything abour 50% faster than the rest of us. But we have conquered 45 of NH’s 48 4K’s. They have taught us all about each other, revealed unknown strengths, and tucked beauty inside of our souls, for safekeeping in stormy weather.
When Daylight Savings time ends in a few weeks the clocks will fall back, but thanks to my wonderboys, our family will continue to Fall Ahead. The road goes ever onward, to greater skill and capability – and not just for the boys.