07 June 2008

How optimistic does a parent of an autistic child have to be? I usually can see all those half full cups but, sometimes . . . . When I get frustrated with Julia's behavior sometimes, I yell. Maybe loudly coax would be a polite way of explaining my behavior. I have given her a potch, a slap, on the bottom at times as well. My Spicy Dragon takes great offense when I do bad behavior. “Don't yell, Mommy!” she says after she has done most of the yelling in any situation. “We don't hit,” she says indignantly. And she is perfectly correct. I apologize. This morning getting in the car we had some yelling on Julia's part. We all told her not to yell and a few blocks later, she said “Julia stop yelling.”

I am writing at least part of this during Julia's swimming class. Alan is having a hard time getting her to listen, but she does try at times to do what is asked of her. If she understands, it is a bit easier for her, but she doesn't always understand or keep what is asked of her in her mind. I don't know if we will ever make it out of polliwogs. I don't care how many times she has to repeat the class, but I want to see a little progress. HOW DO KIDS LEARN?
Julia is trying to initiate conversation with us and with anyone who will talk to her. On the way to the Thia restaurant last night, we passed a woman digging in her garden.

Julia: Hello.

Gardener: Hello. (With a big smile for Julia.)

Julia: Are you digging? (It too more than the normal amount of time for Julia to get this out. Not stuttering, but a pause to find the words. The kind gardener waited.)

Gardener: Yes, I am digging. It's hard. Would you like to do it for me?

Julia: No thank you. Bye. See ya' later.

Gardener (laughing now): Bye Bye.

Julia calls our names multiple times a day in an attempt to start talking. Trouble is that when we acknowledge her, she has nothing to say. I usually initiate some question at that point, but sometimes I just want quiet. I admit it. I just want quiet but only after she has said “Mommy?” for the 100th time in the hour. I do need to take extra patient pills for the summer, especially if I want to get some learning in.

There are people, especially kids, who have a hard time with Julia. Her impulsiveness and aggressive behavior – not hitting or anything but in-your-face speaking and playing. The worst response to her is ignoring her. The other night, she was on the swings with a few kids she didn't know. When it was time for us to leave, Julia said, “Bye, Kids. Goodnight.” And they just stared at her. I don't think tht she gets it yet. I don't think she understands that she is being ignored, but does she understand on some level. I hurt for her, but . . . . I grew up different and was always so happy that Cheshire didn't have to be so very different. Sending her to Sycamore was a way of making her like everyone else. But now I have my real challenge – my different child.

But for everyone who ignors her or looks at her funny, there ae people who are caring and loving. I don't know whether it is Julia who capture hearts or the extreme kindness of the community around us.

Julia is doing the frog kick on her back and she looks at me. I give her a thumbs up and she gives me a big smile. She has learned that pleasing her parents is a good thing. Plus, I promised her an extra sticker today if she listens to Alan. I'd like to give it to her. If she listens about 30% of the time, she gets the sticker. That's really good for her in the pool.

I wonder about Julia's inner life. I have no idea if she expresses everything she thinks about and feels. Her spoken range of emotions is happy, sad, angry, and grumpy. What else does she fell and does she want to express it. Is it language that prevents her from doing it?

They are practicing saving someone in swimming. The kids lay on the side of the pool and extend a noodle to a “drowning” person. The person grabs the noodle and the kid pulls them in. Julia was taught this in her school swimming lessons and she revels in the fact that she understands what to do. I can plainly see this. This afternoon I planted annuals while Julia played with bubbles. She is now able to modulate her breath to blow gently and make huge bubbles. Yeah, we practice everything but some of it is fun.


tumbleintodreams said...

If you want to know what I think.....those kids at the playground are just rude and poorly socialized. Julia saying goodnight to them is the kind of world I'd like to live in. Too bad society makes us think Julia is the one who needs fixing. Know what I mean?

Julie said...

The part about Julia saying good bye to the kids had me in tears! I understand your pain about Julia being different. I feel the same about Thomas. How do you explain to a child how to "fit in?" And sometimes I wrestle with the "why does he truly need to fit in" issue, too. It's such a quandry, this autism thing.

Elaine said...

Suzanne - this Mama of a not autistic 6 year old sometimes yells and gets reprimanded for bad behavior too. She inhabits her own world most of the time - one I'd rather be in.... Yeah, those playground kids? Need to learn some manners and recognize tenderness when they see it.

Traci said...

I love what these commenters said. It does suck to be different, but it would also suck to be the mother of disrespectful children. I love how Julia is out there talking to everyone.

My middle child does not tolerate my bad behavior either. He'll call me on it in a minute. I wish I didn't have those moments but I do. I pray the kids forgive me. I 100% get what you say about wanting quiet time. Oooohhhh, how I long for it.

Hang in there, Mom, you are creating a pretty amazing world for one little girl. Remember Julia on August 28, 2006? I do. Turn around and look at Julia now...amazing, right?

Good Job, Mom and Dad!

Traci & Scott