We’re in a very good space with Cuyler right now. Which is kind of remarkable considering we are in week 7 of summer break with 2 more to go.
I usually get through these last two weeks of summer break by the skin of my teeth. Counting down the days. Not knowing how I made it through each day without tearing my hair out.
It is usually at this point in the summer that Cuyler’s need for routine and a schedule becomes obvious by way of unruly behaviour and exhaustive temper tantrums.
This summer feels different. This summer has felt more normal than it has in years.
I know a lot of people don’t like the word normal, but I don’t worry about semantics. When I use the word normal, I’m usually trying to convey not autistic.
I’ve always said that autism is a part of our life and that I would never let it define us as a family or Cuyler as a person and I think that has worked well for us. I often wonder if a small part of me is still in a tiny bit of denial, but then I realize that I am not denying his diagnosis. Rather, I am denying it any power over him and I refuse to allow it to hold him back from anything.
I took the boys for a dentist appointment last week. Cuyler sat quietly in the waiting room playing a video game. The hygienist came out, called his name and he said “See you later, Mom!”
I sat in the waiting room, grateful for the ease at which the morning was going. I felt like a normal mom, waiting for her kids to get their teeth cleaned. Twenty minutes later they reappeared and I was told “He did great! No cavities. His brushing looks really good, just a little plaque on the back teeth.”
A few years ago the scenario was quite different. I couldn’t even get a toothbrush in his mouth.
We were patient and had some very supportive people guide Cuyler through the process.
I tell parents of younger kids on the spectrum who ask for advice – it gets better. With patience and perseverance it gets better.
Last night he asked Sean and I to buy him a DVD from eBay. We told him that he would have to earn it. And earn it he did.
He cleaned his room and then went and cleaned the basement. Better and more thorough than Campbell has ever cleaned it.
DVD was ordered.
He’s been eating strawberries. Tomatoes. Eggs. He’s been taking a cal/mag supplement every day without complaint.
His diet – it’s getting better.
He’s looking forward to getting his back to school hair cut next week. How many kids on the spectrum are excited for haircuts?
He showers every day without having to be asked. He prepares some of his own simple meals and snacks.
Again – with much patience and perseverance that part of personal care has gotten so much better.
Even his speech, the way in which he is using words and communicating. It’s sounding more typical than ever.
By no means am I trying to paint a picture of ease or perfection. Because it is NOT easy. Nor is anything about our life perfect. I am still challenged every day.
For us it has gotten better. Progress is being made. It doesn’t matter how much progress as long as it’s progress. Sometimes we go backwards but I know when we’re in those low valleys that we will come out of them ahead of when we went in.
Maybe one of those valleys is just around the corner, but for now I am relishing being on the current peak we’re on.
I want that for others parents who are on a similar path that I’m walking. To embrace the peaks and be patient in the valleys – you’ll always walk through whatever you’re in.