Breakthroughs, autism style – and making them last

Shoes cropped 09-28-14I’m away at a 24-hour girl’s getaway, with wonderful though different than me friends and a vantage point over a lake that would inspire any writer.   Hopefully the rest of the house will continue sleeping, because the sunlight as it dapples the water through the trees is enough to stir soulful longings of so many kinds for another hour or more.

Call me Guilty Mom but the ultra-committed part of me feels bad leaving my boys ever, when I work but especially when I play.  Yesterday  our most fabulous caregiver made a second mini breakthrough of the week with W – getting him to wear his old tennis shoes for a walk, instead of the Crocs which have become his emblem in the past six months.   She texted me photos so I could share the moment.   This was after she got him to wear his long-john pants for albeit only 20 seconds, but that’s far more than I’ve accomplished with power struggles over clothing.

What’s more the old tennis shoes followed a morning where I insisted on a new shirt choice – I sabotaged the shirt drawer by not replacing the just-washed two favorite shirts – and Dad finally got W. to don not only an non preferred option – but one that’s cotton, instead of the wicking tech fabric that has been the only one tolerated for months.

What’s the message here?  TwinMom has to take more vacations and get more help so her kids can take baby steps on the path to where they’re meant to be? 🙂

Sensory issues with autism are among the thorniest to fix.  Behaviorists talk about the need for consistency, antecedent control, reinforcement of other behaviors and all that.  But as parents we struggle to find the balance between draconian requirements that doesn’t respect the person in side the autism – and appropriate rules and structure.

Yet progress especially with kids on the spectrum happens with daily breakthroughs that other people call baby steps.   It’s that daily progression of choices made, challenges worked through and new neural patterns being formed as a result.

What’s even harder, sometimes s that progress is about the often mind-numbing repetition that goes along with establishing patterns.  Like the fact that I’m going to have to go back and repeat those 15 minutes of protests over the shirt choices, what whatever length of time V the great caregiver took to get the tennis shoes vs. the Crocs on the feet, and endure the glaring Beep-Beep-Beep of the bus as we aren’t ready, or the trashed drawers of the young man who’s angry that his mom won’t present the favorite shirts – and the mom’s irritation that she already late for umpteen action items and doesn’t need more.

So hat’s off to yesterday being a success, even without knowing any bad things that happened to our wonderful caregiver as she took the boys on an adventure to hike trails they’ve never done with me, literally and figuratively.   Hat’s off to those caregivers who expose themselves to tough stuff like disrobing, toilet peculiarities and more on the journey to helping special peopel like W and J better reveal themselves.  And hat off to W. for making new choices, however else he drives me nuts with his little weirdnesses.

Autism has a side benefit of making us savor every baby step on the trail to progress, and all those who journey with us.  W is going to progress, and God help me, so am I.   So am I!