Yesterday we discovered that those other little things in J-Man’s preschool that move around and do stuff are actually people! Like, children people! And they have names!!
If you’re new to this whole autism thing, you may be saying “Huhwuh?!” And here’s our learning moment du jour – It’s not uncommon for autistic kids to see other kids around them as either not any more noteworthy a part of the environment as chairs and toy cars, or as moving parts of the environment that are very entertaining to watch but not particularly to play with or relate to or anything at a social level (though pushing kids slowly around as if you were rearranging them as chairs is apparently fun sometimes).
At his preschool, they have a little notebook with each kid’s picture in it, and at some points during their day they have to match a photo of a child in their class with the same photo in the notebook. They also try to get the kids who are in some way or another verbal to say some sort of approximation of a particular child’s name when they match up the pictures.
It turns out there’s an “ah-al”, a “kuh-kuh”, and a “co-co” in the class! And to beat all, those are pretty good approximations of their real names! And today he called one of the teachers “Muh-muh”, which is also a great stab at approximating her name! And he doesn’t just do it with the pictures, he’s started using one of the kid’s names with the actual boy himself, and they sorta kinda play together some! And he sometimes comes up and touches him on the arm in what sure looks like an attempt to initiate some social contact! Can I get a whoop whoop! (OK, I’ll stop being a gushing parent who uses out-of-date slang now.)
(OK, I lied – one more.) And we watched him do this with the actual notebook during the parents and teachers group night at the school last night!
Wednesday was a really rough day at The Meadows of Grass Destruction (a really cool place to us but not so much for the J-Man…), and then yesterday was like one big celebration of achievement goodness. He was in a great mood all day, he was playful and chatty (in his unique little language) when he got home, and even helped us put his nighttime diaper on, which NEVER happens anymore. I don’t know what we did, but I want to bottle it and keep it nearby.
This is how it goes. Some days are just abysmal. But you get your few hours of sleep, the sun comes up the next day, and you try again. And perhaps that day will be one where everything just comes up aces and the whole universe feels beautiful. You know it won’t last, but you decide just to soak it all in and not worry about it just yet.
Every achievement is earned with hard, sometimes grinding, practice and work – and more practice and more work – but I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Just make sure you celebrate all of them, let the goodness wash over and through you, and allow the next rough thing to worry about itself for a while.