Monday, September 14, 2009

Autism Crush part 2

Autism Crush continued:

Yo, Mick here, the canine down under - the picnic table!

LMTO (laughing my tail off!) Gosh but I can crack myself up!

Any ways - let me continue...

So there they were at the table with her family. Red was happy as I’ve ever seen him, eating pizza, trying to remember his manners, conversing with her family (yes, you read that correctly, conversing!).

The boy was pure joy!

Sadly though -

It was his last meal with her.

There she was scrunched as close to her mum and as far away from Red as she could possibly get on the bench. Everything about her body language said she was not comfortable – but Red was oblivious.

The eye of autism can be pretty blind. Those darn social cues!

I know she tried to be gentle but Red was just too into her and she wasn’t even into him. She is just a kind person. College sophomore ladies just don’t hang with high school sophomore boys.

Crushed is just too simplistic a word to describe Red’s feelings; feelings mixed in with the autism factors too. Which pretty much means – amped up to mega.

Red was bewildered and hurt.

Sometimes a crush may look like an obsession and to be honest, Red was pretty much fixated on her. I’m sure she was uncomfortable with Red’s attentions. Poor buddy.

Mum did a pretty good job about talking him through these new emotions and getting him McDonald French fries (Red does not like chocolate or ice cream) but some things a mum just can’t share in.

I’m glad that I’d gone through a similar thing recently. I survived my own first crush. Well, to be honest, it was puppy love...

Red was able to make sense out of his feelings by talking about mine.

He compared the two, rationalized that I’d recovered and was happily “just friends” with several girls and decided he could react the same. That’s not to say that Red is totally over her – just that he’s got a good grip on his emotions and what to do about them.

I know – there are some folks who’ll say that Red is delusional – but check this out. He talks to me, he processes through issues as complex as a crushed crush using information he’s learned from friends, family, movies, books etc. and by relying on my experiences.

My experiences are whatever Red needs for them to be. He creates my experiences by projecting information he has gathered from any number of sources.

I often see movies before Red - to ensure they are not too scary.

Sometimes I go places before Red so that he can ask me about them.

I've helped him accept having to get shots. They can hurt as bad as a bee sting - but the pain sure goes away much faster!

I’ve gone through the various stages of puberty ahead of Red.

You see, Red uses my experiences to help him process things. It works for us. I’m not sure it’d work for other kids with autism or not.

I say, nothing ventured is wasted opportunity.

Deep down Red knows – I’m a canine.

He’s got a firm grasp on that as a reality, yet he’s able to power me up to a level that is capable of helping him through whatever he needs help with.

How brilliant is that?

I’m just grateful I can ALWAYS be there for my boy.

Red has just survived his first crush and although he’s crushed – he’s still my boy and I love him.

Peace out!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Autism Crush – Part 1

Autism Crush – Part 1

Yo! Mick here (pictured at the top of this blog with my boy). I'm a very handsome red-headed Queensland Heeler - a Canine if you will, and I'm here to tell you adventures about raising my brother, Red. Red lives with autism...

Red was in band camp again for the 2 weeks before school started. Red loves it! Last year he met a former student who assisted the freshman with getting their marching feet. Although he didn’t know it, Red developed a crush on her.

And I must say, she is a really great person – inside and out. She’s also a great musician and marcher and...

Well, I can totally understand why Red likes her.

Sadly, she eventually had to go off to college last year but because she has a brother still in school, she made trips back as frequently as possible. Red would just glow in happiness whenever she came around.

When there was a band event, Red would perk up a bit, pay extra attention to dressing up and the details of getting his hair just right on the off chance the object of his attention would make an appearance. He really tried hard to impress her. Even Red’s college choices seemed based upon being near her. He, of course, wanted to attend the same college!

Mum and his teachers at school would sometimes use Red’s interest as a carrot saying things like, “you know, to get into college you have to do your homework”, or whatever.

This graduated band member has been a great motivator. Kids with autism tend to need great motivators and teachers and mums know how to get creative in using them.

All during band camp this summer Red went in the hopes of seeing her. And when she came, Red lit up like a pup with a mouth full of double cheeseburger with bacon.

On the very last day of camp the band kids perform what they have learned for their parents. This is followed by an invitation for the family members to join the students on the field and to keep up with them as they march (without the instruments for safety reasons).

Let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks!!!

Red was so busy keeping his eyes on the object of his crush he just about pulled Mum into the tubas.

The moment the music ended he was off to hook up with her and sit at the same table. He even ate pizza to impress her and Red does not eat pizza typically (except at his dad’s but that’s a different story)

(To be continued in The Crush Part 2)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Back-to-School with Autism - Doggy Style

Yo, Mick here – the canine with the new hat, pointy ears and wet nose.

It’s been an insannnne summer at our home – and classes have resumed. (Bummer that)

The best part of summer is getting my boy back! I think Red missed me as much as I missed him

Red’s been taking me for walks, tossing the ball for me, and letting me sleep on his pillow. I do like sleeping on the pillow.

Summer went by very fast! Next thing I knew we’d transitioned to school already! But we’ve about got the hang of it…

The Transition from summer to fall can be huge for kids on the spectrum and are often causes for concern (can you say anxiety?) for the parents of kids with autism – often even more anxiety for the parents than the child.

There are probably hundreds of things to worry about in the transition back to school.

Try this - don't worry!
Find your inner-canine.

I mean think about it for a moment.

Did the things you actually worried about happen?
Sure, some things did while others did not – right?
But what exactly did worrying about them do to help the situation?

Believe me, I totally get that double transitions such as a new school, or district, or promotion from elementary to junior high, or from junior high to high school are huge.

I hear you – canine ears are sharp.

All I’m really saying is that worrying won’t help and takes way too much energy. Conserve your efforts to what works. Lock in those transitions that help.

For example, Red likes to get ready for going back to school by shopping for clothes, shoes, new backpack and supplies. These things mean that school is about to begin for Red. He’s a part of the transition process and gets to make some important choices (mum does guide him sometimes with “either – or” options). It’s a back-to-school ritual.

Rituals offer continuity and comfort.

It’s not too early to start using them and its not too late either.

Shop for school supplies (online if its too much to go out into the crowds) together.

Shopping is a natural opportunity to talk about the upcoming transition.

LOL – this may appear to be rather one-sided conversations but that’s ok too. It is what it is. The point is to keep the channels of communication open – you have no idea what is actually seeping through. Likely, a lot more than appears to be!

In these conversations, focus on what works, the students’ strengths, and resilience, and past transition successes (even seemingly insignificant transitions
Such as getting out of bed in the morning are places to build new successes on).

Remember there is a lot of comfort in the rituals of being in school versus the often, unpredictable schedules and social events of summer. Focus on the positives.

Play up the positives, build upon the positives, talk about the positives and act on the positives and you’ll find you wont have a lot of time to worry.

You’ll have found your inner-canine.

There will likely be a need for adjustments in the transition to back-to-school, but by establishing a habit of focusing on the positives, positive solutions will likely happen.

Peace out – peace in. Peace in Transition.