Seeing is believing, even if you need to do a double-take…or gather photographic evidence.

Josespinach

 

 

 

You may ask yourself WHY I would go to such lengths to take a picture of a ramekin holding spinach.  The hand, my friends, is J’s.  As you can see, he is reaching for spinach; in fact, he has a leaf in his hand.  In his other hand he is holding a pencil, and he is working on one of the many very basic workbooks I have for him.

It could be anyone’s hand, I know.  Any person in this household could be reaching for spinach leaves I put in a ramekin while I prepared dinner.  Mind you, there was also a bowl with some hummus, and we had crackers, but since I was trying to make up my mind between making spinach or asparagus, I had both out on the counter.  That’s when I, jokingly, started alternating crackers with hummus on them with spinach leaves, and J -KNOWING that I was alternating these- started eating.

Never mind that I ultimately made steamed asparagus (which J tried but found too stringy for his taste…he was eating them like you would artichokes.)  J ate spinach.  J ate spinach like he would have normally eaten potato chips while doing something at the kitchen counter as I prepared dinner.  Then he had oven-fried chicken (boneless, skinless thighs dredged in whole wheat flour, wheat germ and herbs and spices,) and sweet potato fries with spinach (yes, yes, yes!!!!) dip that has little shards of carrot in it…

It could be anyone’s hand…photo

but that hat should tell you that it isn’t…and just believe me because I wouldn’t make this up.  I really couldn’t.  My imagination doesn’t stretch that far…

So there…

Never mind that there’s no school tomorrow because of the cold.  Right now I don’t care…this is just too picture perfect (even if it gives him gas later…)

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And now for something completely diff…the same as yesterday…

Oh, the sun was bright and the sky was clear when we woke up this morning.  It was a glorious morning.  I kid you not…the sky was bright blue, and the sun was shining with such…sunny-ness!!!  Yes, everything was covered with snow…with a lot of snow…copious amounts of snow…but the sun was OUT and the sky was BLUE!!!!!!!  I bounced down the stairs and started breakfast; Dada called out to J and together they bounced down the stairs.  We made scrambled eggs (with cauliflower puree and yogurt, but that’s beside the point…they were yummy, though,) and hash browns…and ham…and coffee.  And, as we usually do on Sunday mornings, we tuned into the Luigi Boccherini station on Pandora…light streamed into the kitchen and a swatch of blue sky was visible above the trees and houses on the other side of the road.

After yesterday’s gloomy day (when the snow didn’t really take a break until late in the evening,) and the laziness that comes attached to that (which we staved off by doing an energetic round of chores,) we were excited about the prospect of possibly leaving the house for a while, and with J in tow.

And then the clouds gathered once more and a curtain of snow started falling.  It started falling sideways, its intensity increasing and diminishing intermittently.  At that moment it became obvious that the only real outdoor time we’d enjoy today would involve shovels.

So here we are, another day inside the house, trying to stay entertained in the face of more snow.  J will not go outside.  He is afraid of slipping and falling, regardless of how hard we try to make sure he knows he won’t get hurt.  We exercise in the garage, and we go up and down stairs in the process of cleaning house, making meals (I ‘accidentally’ forget to bring things with me…glasses, a sweater, a can of tomatoes, a package of sugar,) or simply being at home.  We move around, sometimes just to look at the snow falling.

Today I conducted a little experiment.  A few weeks ago I bought a pair of pants for J.  I intentionally bought a pair of pants two sizes too small.  I bought these as “aspirational” pants…something that J can look to wearing in a few months.  Today, because we are THAT bored, I pulled them out of the closet and had J try them on.

No, they don’t button and, no, we can’t yet zip them up, but they went all the way up to his waist and that is something we could not have achieved a couple of months ago.  Little by little, almost without noticing it, we are whittling down J’s belly, working our way through the fat that had accumulated in his abdomen.  The long-sleeve t-shirts that accentuated every single extra ounce on his body are now looser, and our son can do sit-ups without getting winded.  He can do these even though they, for some mysterious reason, make him laugh quite a bit…I don’t know if he gets giddy with the motion or if he’s just happy to touch his toes, but the laughter is part of the exercise.

I wish I could persuade my son to leave the house and walk in the snow.  I think this would be quite the workout, but I don’t want to push him to do this if he’s afraid he’ll slip and fall.  I don’t know what goes on in his mind, but I respect it, and I change and work with what I can.  That J now accepts home-made pizza with a whole-wheat crust, a sauce made from tomatoes and pumpkin, 1/3 of the pepperoni he used to demand, 1/3 of the cheese, and only three slices (of a very modest size, I’ll have you know) is enough of a won-battle for me.  That this morning he happily tucked into scrambled eggs that had a healthy dose of cauliflower and plain yogurt in them (seriously, try it…it’s delicious) is another won-battle.  I made a creamy cheese sauce that had no cream or butter, and very little cheese, and he ate it…happily…smiling with every bite.  I can deal with his rejection of walking in the snow as long as we can say “he eats his yogurt, his pear chips, his hummus, his pita bread, his veggie chips, and etc., etc., etc.”

If we keep going on this track, and if we keep making modest progress, we will be able to do a lot more outdoors this summer, and maybe I’ll be able to buy him that tricycle that he’s been too heavy to ride.  The prospect is exciting.  I think, once he gets the chance to try this contraption, J will be thankful for the mobility it grants him.  I am looking forward to taking him to the pool, and not just because it means warmer weather, but because I think this year he will take better advantage of it.  I have notions of buying a paddle board for him, and planning our mornings around being at the pool from 9 to eleven, then coming home to lunch and taking walks in the afternoon.  With his new eating habits, and more physical activity, I’m sure J will reach a comfortable weight…

And WHAT is that?  What is J’s comfortable weight?  According to the CDC, at J’s height and with his large frame, he should weigh no more than 174 pounds (78.92 kg) to be within the healthy range.  I try to imagine J weighing that little and I can’t figure out if it scares me, or if it just looks wrong.  So we’re considering that J’s comfortable weight might not be reflected in any of the charts out there…that there is something about those numbers that talk about how the rest of the world feels about weight.

The plan, as it has been since the beginning, is to get J to a healthier weight, and have him develop and maintain better eating habits.  So far we’re succeeding.  We don’t know a proper number yet, but we’re working on those size 40 pants and a move active lifestyle.  Maybe, once we get used to a slimmer J, we can come up with a figure that doesn’t sound too extreme…for now, we’re going with pants…

 

 

O, weather…here art thou!

J’s breath froze on his goatee and scarf as we walked to the bus stop this morning.  The two-hour delay didn’t do much to alleviate the cold temperatures, but it did give us the ability to better SEE the effects of the cold.  I carried a bedspread with me, and as soon as we stopped at the corner to wait for the bus I wrapped it around J.  We timed our walk well…we waited less than three minutes.

The house was very quiet all day. J had been full of enthusiasm for the prospect of the bus and school, and in the afternoon he had even more enthusiasm about the walk home.  He dragged me home, calling out NOODLES and SODA constantly until we got to the front door.  Once inside, he said CLOTHES and ran upstairs to change into his pajamas.  It was very cold out there, and it is about to get colder.  The bus driver told me that they basically had school today because, after these past four days, they are expecting a repeat of no-school days next week.

Dada and I left the house early this evening to return to the store for all we couldn’t find last night.  By the time we finished unloading the car, we were ready to cuddle up in a corner.

It should be snowing by morning.  It should continue snowing through the weekend.  J’s birthday, according to all the weather forecasts, looks to be very cold.  We’ll play this by ear…

For now, I am going to curl up and read.  There’s a fuzzy blanket calling my name, and J is happily tucked into his TV room and not wanting anyone interrupting his bliss.

I think THIS is what bears do when they hibernate…they have a pretty good system….

Well…definitely…maybe…ok, not a full day of school tomorrow…

Kierkegaard called while we were at the store to say we have a 2-hour delay tomorrow.  Dada dashed across the store to where I was standing (looking at the dairy section and wondering if I wanted any of the slim pickings there,) and shook his head sadly as I went to grab a dozen eggs.  “Everything OK?,” I asked.  Sigh…”Kierkegaard called.”  I stopped myself from grabbing the eggs; if I’d smashed them on the floor in anger I would have still felt compelled to pay for them.  “”It’s only a two-hour delay!”  I immediately envisioned J and I walking towards the school bus stop, slipping and sliding, our vision blocked by scarves that ride up, hats that drop over our eyes, and our mobility limited by the sixteen layers of clothes we’ll need to wear because of the wind chill advisory.

The rest of the trip to the store is a blur.  I know I got everything I needed, but I also know I kept asking the rafters, the PA system and just anyone within earshot: what IS IT with this weather?  The ceiling didn’t answer, the PA system keep announcing there was a call for Produce waiting on line 2, and people just looked at me with the same kind of confusion I’m experiencing.  WHAT is it with this winter????  Is THIS global warming?  This isn’t El Niño, is it????

We drove home cautiously.  The temperature was dropping quickly due to the Wind Chill Advisory we have in place for tonight and tomorrow.  When we got home, a Winter Weather Advisory had just been issued.  Then I open my e-mail to find my Samuel Adams newsletter and the Beer of the Month is….botm

 

That J has been saying the words BUS, LATER, SCHOOL, YELLOW BUS, SCHOOL BUS, TOMORROW in an endless loop isn’t helping…

The store had been picked clean, people.  I’ve experienced many a hurricane season, and many times have I been directly in the path of the storm.  I’ve lived through thirty-three hurricane seasons on an Island that hears the words “hurricane warning” uttered in a forecast and collectively leaves home and heads to the store to buy rice, beans, water, rum, beef-o-getti, and so forth until nothing is left on the shelves.  The last time I experienced such a dearth of items on store shelves was…oh…nearly sixteen years ago.  Mind you, I live day after day with that mentality.  I look at the weather report and I make a mental inventory of what we might need to get past whatever crisis we’re facing.  It is a well-known fact that I will buy batteries and water bottles every time I go to the store “because you never know.”  This preparedness of mine usually happens BEFORE things go awry, and I live in the comfortable knowledge that my panicky nature has served me well.

And now…

the freezer is empty.  Well, no…there’s a whole duck and a corned beef brisket in there.  And frozen vegetables.  The freezer in the kitchen has some ground beef (NOT J’s favorite,) and some codfish.   And more vegetables.  And butter.  We went looking for “something other than chicken” because people are clucking here, and it’s pretty annoying.  Picked…clean.  People were wandering aimlessly around the aisles, their lists checked and re-checked, and very little in their shopping carts.  I got lucky…I found hummus, spinach dip, yogurt, orzo, all the stuff J now eats, but no meat.  I am close to breaking into the “for emergencies only” supply of vienna sausages.

J looked at the bags we brought out the car with interest.  “Oh, good,” his eyes told me, “you didn’t forget the lemons!  Oh, WHAT????  NO PEARS?????”  Nope, no pears…so we have TWO pears we can put in the dehydrator tonight and that’s it until the stores are re-stocked.  That’s where we’re at, guys…

Tomorrow morning, unless Kierkegaard wakes us up at the crack of dawn, we’ll trek through the snow to get to the bus.  And then we’ll trek back in the afternoon.  I am hoping to get to the other grocery store tomorrow evening before the next advisory goes into effect.  I need something other than chicken…or duck…or brisket.

Spring is 63 days away, right????

Right????

Right…definitely…maybe…or not quite…

Cold weather and snow give one time to think…

Yesterday it snowed all day.  It snowed horizontally, copiously, and incessantly.  If the wind had not been blowing as vigorously as it did, we would have significantly more snow on the ground than the 8 inches measured by the weather experts.  Kierkegaard called sometime before 5 a.m. to let us know that it was fine to not drag ourselves to the corner to wait for the school bus.  J did us the courtesy of not waking up chanting COFFEE COFFEE until 6:25.  After being fed a hot, hearty breakfast, those of us who had to face the elements (namely Dada and TGG,) left the house with all precaution knobs turned to HIGH.  Those of us who were to be confined to the Great Indoors did our best to wait patiently for the call that said “we made it ok.”

The roads were plowed with less than stellar skill, but the trip to work and back was fairly safe.  In the face of all the snow that had fallen (and was still falling) at around 4 P.M., Kierkegaard called again and I was at liberty to inform J that, once more, we’d be spending a fun-filled day at home.  That makes, since the beginning of the year, six days when the weather has conspired to push back the Last Day of School.  If statistics are correct, we’re in for a doozy next month, and we might as well say we’ll do our Back-to-School shopping on the Last Week Before Summer Break.  This, my friends, does not bode well.

I am a “keep it in perspective” kind of broad.  I know it doesn’t seem that way, but I do factor in the size of the glass (height and width) before I decide to view it as half-full or half-empty.  That our main occupations are laundry, reading stories, watching movies, cooking, cleaning and watching the barren landscape left behind by all this precipitation  (because not a creature out there stirs unless hunger reaches critical mass,) my mind tends to wander.   At one point yesterday I walked up to the thermostat because I felt “cold.”  The temperature inside the house was 67 degrees.  The temperature outside was obscenely cold.  So I marched down to the basement and found one of the books we have that depict polar exploration.  Sixty-seven degrees turned into comfortably warm in that context.

Half an hour later I was in the throes of a hot flash.  Perspective…it’s easy to have it when the conditions are right.

Around this time last year I lost my Shackleton book.  I need to get a new one.  I have to get yet another source of perspective that I can leaf through when the weather turns nasty.  For the record, I use Lawrence of Arabia as a perspective provider in the hot days of summer.  Ok, that might be just because I love the now-late Peter O’Toole…and My Favorite Year is not good for hot-weather perspective.

The other reel of thought that unraveled was this blog.  It suddenly occurred to me (or, rather, it was suddenly at the forefront of my thought process) that J will be 19 years old in a little over a week, and that will render the “my teenager is autistic” thing totally moot in a little over 365 days.  I suspect that the possibility exists that all this (meaning the recounting of all the loops and ups and downs and bumps and dips and rapids leading to rocks) might have run its course by then.  Maybe what I’m wondering is if the confluence of adolescent autism and menopause will have petered out, and whether this will make our lives less worth talking about.

There have been times when I wish our lives weren’t as “interesting” as they are.  I wonder if all this smacks the reader of fiction peppered with realistic touches to make it more appealing.  I say this because I have noticed that Out There (in the vast blogosphere) there are those who write heart-wrenching accounts that turn out to not be true, and so starts the backlash, and those who tell the truth and, because it is heartfelt, are misinterpreted and criticized for being trite or melodramatic.  Sometimes, after I click Publish, I wonder in which group people place me as they read my entries.

This is a fact: while I appreciate and respect everyone’s opinions, this is about me thinking out loud, and hoping that it makes anyone who reads feel a little less isolated in their experience with a kid like J…IF their kid is like J.  It’s also about me saying out loud, and to others, what I often don’t say to people who think they know but don’t bother to ask for clarification or confirmation.  I also hope that my ruminations result in enlightening those who don’t know, but have managed to stumble into these entries without any initial curiosity about Autism, what it feels like to be…us.  I don’t think our experience is unique, but I do think we approach certain things about our life as a family with perspective.  I hope, even though I don’t hold my breath, that this helps someone…anyone…other than just us.

And now to the “scholarly” portion of this entry.  I’m reading Temple Grandin’s The Autistic Brain.  If you want to get a more scientific slice of what is being done in Autism research, pick this book up and read it.  I try to work my way through books that will help me understand J’s situation better.  Mind you, not J himself because that’s another kettle of fish, but his situation…where all this might come from, and how it might be affecting him on different levels.  I always walk away from Temple Grandin’s books realizing that I’ve made an enormous amount of mistakes, I’ve overlooked things, I have mishandled situations, but I can keep plodding on to make things work better.  I am not an expert, and I will never be, but I’m curious and I try to be engaged and informed.

The next moment when I paused in my daily routine to hatch a hybrid thought that had been rattling in the nest: how much longer do I have to work with a malleable J?  If he is nearly done with adolescence, and pretty much set in his ways, do I get an indefinite amount of time to tweak all these things and make him more functional, or am I reaching the limit of his tweak-ability?  Or am I reaching the end of mine?

Have I mentioned that my M.A. is in Liberal Arts and that I spent and inordinate amount of time reading Philosophy, pondering bullshit and agonizing about stuff to earn that????  It seems like whatever “degree” this whole process results in is far from completed…I’m still pondering bullshit and agonizing about stuff, am I not?

 

Here comes snow again…

When I was a kid I liked to imagine that our air-conditioned bedroom was the South Pole, and I had successfully completed my own Antarctic expedition. The temperature, of course, was not a degree under 60, and that was on nights when my aunt was experiencing what I now understand to be the overwhelming power of hot flashes.  I thought, silly me, that I knew what “cold” was, and I did…in comparison to the average temperature of my childhood: 78℉ year-round.  If, as a child and teenager, I ran to the closet in search of an extra blanket or a sweater when the temperature dipped below 65, I now am a little more tolerant of the mercury sinking quickly in our thermometers.

Because today was a holiday and J is ready to be far away from home, tomorrow looks like a possible snow day.  The forecast calls for snow starting before dawn (of course,) and continuing throughout the day.  The high temperature for Wednesday is supposed to be, oh, ten degrees.  In my early years I had no clue about what “wind chill” is, and now it’s an all-too-familiar concept.  If my eight year-old self could see me now she would be impressed, and then she’d ask me if I’ve lost my marbles and why am I not wearing socks in bed when the thermostat reads 65 indoors.  

If all goes as the weather forecast is expecting, the 2013-2014 school year will end sometime in late June.  At the rate we’re going, spring will arrive bundled up in a cloak and dragging summer by the ear.  Summer will be kicking and screaming with displeasure, complaining about how cold it still is.  Every time this comes into my mind (at the oddest moments, too,) I grab a seed catalog and start using J’s methods of yearning and cajoling Nature to acquiesce.  She is, after all, a mother, and if she will dump snow on us because J wants a snow day, I’m sure I can get her to understand this from my point of view: there’s only so much productive mothering that can take place when we can’t open the door and step outside.  Thirty-one-hundred square feet is not enough space for all this mothering in cold, cold, atrociously cold weather.  A month in, and we’re all ready to open the back door and let winter exit and go back north where it belongs.

In the meantime we keep busy with our everyday lives.  J continues to surprise us with his willingness to eat whatever we put in front of him (mock risotto made with orzo tonight,) and by displaying a significant amount of energy for even the most exhausting tasks.  He is alert and enthusiastic, and he’s HAPPY.  J has been in a consistently good mood since November…for the most part.  He’s got his moments, of course, when he’d rather not deal with any of us, but he doesn’t go about them in a negative way.  The only difficulty he continues to have with behavior is at school, and last week was much better than before.

J’s teacher told me that one of the aides, an older lady who tends to proactively seek the fly in the ointment, pointed that she didn’t think J liked his yogurt.  This impression, the teacher tells me, seems to have been gleaned from J scraping at the dregs of yogurt in the cup with his spoon, and running his finger in it to see if there was any more to be had.  The other day, she tells me, they sat there watching J happily dipping his six whole-wheat crackers into his small container of hummus…and eating them with what they described as absolute joy.  I hear those things and part of me is still stunned, and the other part of me is just going “right on!!!!!!!!!!” 

I haven’t wanted to weigh him.  I don’t want to go by numbers here because numbers can be very disappointing.  Instead I’m focusing on how his clothes fit, how much energy he has, and what kind of energy it is.  Is it the frantic energy provided by sugar?  Is it the burst of energy that peters out suddenly when whatever was providing it is spent?  Can J put his pants on without sucking his belly in, and do they cut into him when he sits down?  All the answers lately are positive.  J is doing just fine, I just don’t know what number “fine” is.

I am going, forgive me for saying, with the approach that is being bandied about by the nice people at Special K…instead of worrying about “size,” I’m focusing on how my son is moving, his attitude, his new habits.  Today I saw disappointment because all the pear chips are gone, and I forgot to ask TGG to buy a lemon when he went to the store so I can’t make more until I get ONE lemon.  I explained this to J…he rolled his eyes.  Today was the tenth day without Ramen Noodle.  I wonder if the good people at Nissin Top Ramen and Maruchan Ramen have noticed J’s absence.  I doubt it because this is a college town and, as we know, college students live on ramen noodles, but maybe that minuscule downturn in sales has been duly noted.

It almost feels like J is in a twelve-step program to quit ramen noodles, and we’re taking it one day at a time.  Then I think of how he hasn’t even tried to ask for them; even though the PECS card for RAMEN NOODLES is there in the drawer where he keeps all the ones for his everyday snacks, J has made no move to grab it or to put it on the board, or to use his iPad to ask “hey…how come????”  Nothing.  Not a peep.  The early-morning staple, J’s personal interpretation of “the breakfast of champions” is gone from the rotation without so much as a by-your-leave…

But if there’s one thing we can count on for now it’s snow…and there’s more coming, and I’m sure there will be some more behind it.  That’s the way the healthy, whole-grain cookie crumbles.

Back to the seed catalogs…two months to spring…to long, cold, seemingly endless months…

 

 

Milestones…

Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed
My life’s a mess
But I’m having a good time.

Have a Good Time – Words and music by Paul Simon

That song, coincidentally, is ten years younger than I am, so if I turned 49 yesterday, it is now 39 years old.  I remember that year, by the way, quite well.  Twenty years later, I was having the last of my kids, and the Scylla and Charybdis part of my journey was starting.  (Note, please, that I don’t consider J one of the two evils one has to choose from when faced with Scylla and Charybdis…it’s merely an echo of the “rock and hard place” image.  Of course, one can go with Patrick O’Brian’s pun on “the lesser of two weevils,” but I’ve bored you enough with my nerdiness for one morning.)

Because I turned 49 yesterday (and one CAN get more middle-aged than that, but we’re not going there right now,) it follows that there are thirteen days left until J’s 19th birthday.  Once more I tread on familiar territory: how much have things changed since last year!!!!!!!

It has been a WHOLE WEEK since J last ate Ramen noodle.  A year ago on a day like today I would have said BAH! if you’d told me that this was even possible.  At the time, J would have been asking for Ramen noodle more than once a day.  Now…nothing.  He doesn’t even go looking for them.  J’s breakfast can now be French toast (with pumpkin,) or whole grain muffins with eggs, or a simple sandwich on whole grain bread.  Last night we made home-made pizza with a whole wheat crust, and the sauce we used was chopped tomatoes with pumpkin, oregano, garlic, basil and thyme.  J ate with enthusiasm, and he ate -surprise, surprise- a modest portion.  For dessert we had “ice cream” made with yogurt and buttermilk, adapted from a recipe in Jessica Seinfeld’s book.  We skipped the lemon ingredients, and made it chocolate chip instead.  It was a big hit, and absolutely delicious.

In one year we’ve made the transition from snacking uncontrollably, craving all the wrong foods, and getting angry and contentious if we didn’t get them to “it’s time for my yogurt.  Where are my pear chips?  Yum!  Hummus!  Is that whole-grain toast???  AWESOME!!!!!!!”  I can hardly believe it, and yet it feels right.  I am surprised, and it’s the most pleasant surprise I could have hoped for…well, there’s the big prize in the lottery, but THAT -unlike this- is IMPOSSIBLE!

The freezer is full of pureed vegetables that quickly and seamlessly find their way into every meal.  We have pumpkin with breakfast, we find spinach in lunch, apples in chocolate cake, and avocados in chocolate pudding.  That we made a whole-wheat crust for pizza is notable; that J liked it is impressive.  That we shrugged it off as “well, it IS delicious, and he LOVES delicious” is par for the course now.  Our son has discovered his palate, and the evidence of this is the multitude of tumbleweeds that populate the baskets where he used to keep his Ramen noodles, microwavable popcorn, Pringles and cheap lemon-creme filled cookies.  I can now give him a spoonful of something to taste, and he doesn’t react like a vampire would to a lei made of garlic.  

Mind you, this doesn’t mean that J doesn’t get to eat what he would have chosen before.  It means that he’s not choosing it, but not that it’s forbidden.  I try not to show surprise (because I do feel it…I can’t lie) so that J won’t be swayed by “thumbing his nose” at my approval.  I encourage him.  I offer him different things.  I made new PECS for him to choose from, and he uses them on the fridge to show what his snack and meal choices are for each day.  I am doing my best to make this new part of “normal” as natural as I can for everyone.

And so this year before my fiftieth birthday starts on a happy, encouraging note.  The song says “I should be depressed, my life’s a mess,” but it really isn’t.  It’s complicated and interesting; the challenges I face every day morph so subtly that sometimes I don’t even notice how they’ve changed, but I’m finally -at the ripe old age of 49- getting a handle on all this.  

Never too late to start.  Never too old to learn.  And, of course, never too old to realize that the bread your mom has been offering for years and you’ve treated with disdain as you spit a piece you’ve barely chewed on isn’t anywhere near as bad as all that.  J is happy.  J is well-fed, and healthy.  J has learned that pearl couscous is pasta cut in a different shape, and he doesn’t need a to-scale model of Mt. Kilimanjaro made out of it to be happy or satisfied.

If you add to all this that J has had no SIB at school for the past two days, and that this is the result of a band-aid (yes, a band-aid…) because he doesn’t want to mess with the way it sits on his forehead (where he’d scratched himself,) there’s more reason for happiness around these parts.  J’s doing well.  J’s found a groove.  J’s adjusted, adapted, settled in…another reduction in his med in a few months is not an outlandish thought right now.  Just like asking him to exercise with the Wii, or do sit-ups is not something we dread.  We don’t expect NO for an answer either.  We just expect exactly what we get: J bounces up and comes running eager to participate.  It’s quite a lovely sight.

Does this mean his Autism is gone?  No.  J is as autistic today as he was the day I started writing this, but I (we) can handle it better.  We are not as daunted by the stubbornness of his nature, his love of routine (unbending, un-breakable, it seemed) as much as we used to be.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, and some lanterns have been installed along the way.  And we can see better, but it’s because we are now actually using the flashlight we’ve had in our hands, equipped with full-powered batteries, all along.  We have extra batteries in our pockets, too.  

This is me shrugging my shoulder and saying “yeah, that’s right.  It’s cool.  That’s the way it is.”  It’s quite a happy feeling.