Crashing and burning our way through the Twelve Days…

The med is gone.  Callooh callay, o frabjous day!  Like gone gone.  Like we don’t miss it gone.  Like aside from one small outburst related to not getting his snack, getting rushed into the bus, and not having his Christmas presents to bring home right then and there, J has been nothing more than slightly antsy…

But, boy, have his Twelve Days sucked so far.  It will start getting better tonight, but I simply had to not give him the really cool stuff when he might be super antsy and super ready to growl…  He likes his new slippers from L.L. Bean, but -then again- who wouldn’t love those?  And he’s accepted that he now has TWO flat caps he can wear, and one of them is green.  The other stuff he hasn’t found particularly exciting has been hidden in the TV room…or put, face down, on the bench in his bedroom.

Tonight it gets better because it’s a bag full of cool t-shirts, and J LOVES cool t-shirts.  Tomorrow night the movie extravaganza begins, and I will become a very popular girl until the Twelfth Day is done and over with…

I admit that I’ve tried not to make the transition TOO easy because then we wouldn’t really know if J is OK, or if he’s just so complacent about his circumstances that there’s no need to act out.  I don’t want to create an environment in which J doesn’t have cause to be irked, but rather teach J that when one is irked, one works through it.

So far, so good.

Today, first day of Christmas break, J actually woke up early, but hung out in his room until nearly 8 a.m.  If that doesn’t have a hint of Christmas miracle in it, I don’t know what does.  TGG had him help with chores (yet another Christmas miracle-like occurrence, people…TGG is being nice and helpful,) and then we worked on a paper garland before sitting down to lunch.

The mood has been good.  He isn’t a barrel of laughs 24/7, but he is happy and easily redirected when he’s starting to look bored or annoyed.  The house has been cleaned, and J has been supervising just enough to prove that his personality is unchanged by the absence of the Risperdal.

Perhaps Dada was right when he said “but he’s taking so little of it!”  Perhaps we managed to taper off the med in the wisest way possible, and we made the right choices at the right times…

The truth -the whole truth, and nothing but the truth- is that J still has “issues,” and that will never really change.  J is autistic; J has moderate mental retardation; J is non-verbal.  J will always have challenges and problems that might seem insurmountable from time to time.  The truth -the whole truth, and nothing but the truth- is that we are still wearing enough band-aids to make it look like there is something REALLY wrong with our hand, and there have been moments when J’s skin has become so dry that we’ve had to apply ointments to restore his skin to its normal state.  The truth -the whole truth, and nothing but the truth- is that we will always have something to address, something to do, something to tackle…and that’s fine.

The Risperdal was a step in a longer, more winding road.  We had issues, major ones, to contend with at the time when the Risperdal came on the scene, but those issues are (for the most part) resolved.  Will there be another actor entering the stage to perform a crucial role for a time?  That’s always a possibility.  No one can guarantee that the current state of balance and calm that J is experiencing will be permanent.  Regression happens, and it doesn’t just come in the shape of forgetting how to complete a task unassisted.  Sometimes regression comes as slipping back into harmful behavior that cannot easily be redirected.

You will, I hope, forgive me for having a tangent-prone mind.  I have often found myself reciting (in my mind, of course) Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening when in the midst of some autism-related conundrum.  I know…one has nothing to do with the other, but I did tell you just now that my mind is “tangent-prone.”  The poem goes (and forgive me for foisting it on you):

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I guess it’s just the whole thing about promises to keep that pulls me in, or maybe it’s just the cadence of the lines floating in my mind.  Somehow, I’ve often found myself facing a tantrum, a meltdown, a crying fit, an obstinate bout of grunting while Robert Frost bounces around in my brain.

OK.  My thoughts don’t always lean towards the loftier sentiments of Robert Frost.  I have, on occasion, confronted a conundrum while reciting The Grand Old Duke of York to myself; I have also asked the other people in the room to join in for a hearty rendering of Witch Doctor, and this strategy tends to confuse and delight J into calming down…only he knows why this is effective.

So, there you are, we are hanging in there quite successfully, and the Twelve Days of Christmas are about to improve for all of us.  The temperatures are nothing like autumn, and certainly nowhere near an approximation of winter, but we are undeterred…

‘Tis Christmastime…

and we have miles to go before we sleep…



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