Happy November (I’m even late for that) and may everything be well in your neck of the woods, valley, copse, thicket, hedgerow, desert, tundra…
We are well. J is well. J is an adult with Autism, and he has moments when this hits home for him and for us, but we’re all doing well.
We have grown accustomed to our new surroundings, and we have jettisoned all sorts of things that don’t really bring positivity into our lives. By this I don’t mean specific people or things, but rather general clusters of influence: Facebook groups that elevated our blood pressure unnecessarily (I’m looking at you, neighborhood Facebook page!), activities that brought no real pleasure and felt more like social obligations, the unwilling and reluctant interactions we were not really enjoying with certain businesses, food, events.
We have become pleasantly self-contained in a non-noxious way. We are cultivating each other and ourselves. Does that sound reasonable?
What I mean is that even in his most non-verbal mood, J is actually feeling that we listen to, and take him into consideration. J no longer thinks we will try to hoodwink him into doing something he’s not in the mood to do, and this has made him more accommodating. “You did this for me…please, let’s do this that you want to do…” We have realized that the no-more-than-two-hours window of opportunity for outings works best, and he loves that we take that into account. We also have realized that Autism aside, J is very much a homebody and loves his creature comforts.
We have accepted that there will be times when J will be done with a movie at the theater before the movie is done. The last time we got irritated about this we ruined our own afternoon. J had come down from his anxiety, and we were still fuming…then we took a step back and realized “if he’s cool, why are we doing our best to rile him up again by being pissed off?”
I think they call that wisdom. I’m not entirely sure that we’ve become wiser, but we’ve become more accepting. We didn’t think this was possible. For a while there we thought we were pretty damn good about that, and then we realized that we aren’t. We were getting upset about things because the accepted convention is that we SHOULD be upset when we’re really not…if J is happy, without the more tyrannical aspects of his happiness manifesting themselves in too outward a manner, we should be (and, surprise!!!, are) happy.
Maybe it’s not wisdom. It’s quite likely that what we have reached is old age. Or maybe not Old Age, but rather Older Age…we spend a lot of time quoting that t-shirt that reads “I find myself to be exorbitantly superannuated for this feculence.” The feculence was fighting things that are not worth fighting against. This is not to say that we have given up on our kid or the work we have to do with him, but we are understanding things a lot better.
Take, for example, his recent rejection of the treadmill. He doesn’t want to use it. He’s done with it for now. I know it’s “for now” because he hasn’t expected it to be removed, and he hasn’t stopped exercising. He has just changed the way he does it. The weather has turned kinder (and there are not as many flying things out there) so he now enjoys walking up and down the driveway and across the street at a brisk clip until we complete 20 laps. He does this carrying a weighted ball. He also stretches; he does lifts and bends that improve his coordination. I’ve ordered him a weight bench to help him with his fear of being leaned back. It will also, with the program I’ve designed, help his core muscles.
At first, I was upset about his unwillingness to stick to the treadmill. I worried about him getting fat. I worried about him being stubborn. I worried about being scolded by the doctor. His weight has remained steady. His clothes fit well (and he’s down a whole size). He is doing his best with the body he has, and within his particular current preference for movement and effort. He’s not slacking. He’s changed course for the time being.
I sometimes travel into that alternate reality that we abandoned when J was diagnosed. Alternate-reality J, at this same age, would be completely out of reach. Would we know what he eats? No. Would we know what he drinks? No. Would we know what he’s doing or where he is? No. Would he be willing to listen to advice and take guidance? Probably no. Real-world J, because things are as they are, has all these things he’s expected to adhere to, and he is quite gracious about it…
J has learned to accept the dog, and he’s getting closer to letting her do what she’s supposed to do for him. She positively adores him, and she is extremely obedient when he’s around. She only hears “the boy is coming” and she sits quietly in her corner, regardless of how unruly she has been previous to that moment. She respects his space, and she accepts his reluctance. She is also full of hope that someday her feelings will no longer be unrequited.
That is where things stand at this moment. We have a new granddaughter and we hope the kids will move closer to us sooner rather than later. We are comfortable in our home and our skins and our bodies and our minds. J is comfortable and happy, and he tries really hard to stay that way. On bad days he only expects understanding, and he repays with efforts to meet us halfway.
Life is good…even during the lull…the prolonged lull…