Disclaimer: I am writing this blog post not to: pretend I am a doctor or teacher or to say that we are getting it all right at our house. But my thoughts overflow occasionally into writing. And this is one of those moments! Our 8 year old was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 4 by a developmental specialist. His current diagnosis is high-functioning autism, or Aspergers. And he is incredibly awesome.
Below I am sharing 6 things we think about differently in our home, and a bit about how it affects our daily life.
Bryce’s sister is younger than him and competitive. Nothing gets by her when we give Bryce extra screen time for a “reboot” or other behavior modification. We have told her about Bryce’s diagnosis (we have told him too) but to be honest I am not sure she cares or understands what its means. She loves to annoy him. And in a way, I am very thankful for that. They have a pretty typical sibling relationship.
One of the scariest things for me when we moved from Minnesota to North Carolina was starting over with friends. Our friends in Minnesota had grown up with Bryce and accepted our family. But starting over there is a big insecurity over “Will he be invited to playdates and birthday parties? What do they know of Aspergers? How much can I talk about it with my friends before I get annoying?” Thankfully, most our new friends are either open to understanding more, or they have a friend or family member on the spectrum and understand a bit about us.
“What age are the counselors? Is there structure? How would they handle a meltdown?” We are signed up for a VBS this summer (Vacation Bible School) but I have no idea how it will go. Last time we tried it, two years ago, we had pretty big meltdowns throughout the week. It really unsettled him. And the VBS itself was LOUD. We are trying one at a different church this time. Summer in general is a challenge and unsettling for him. We are signing up for a lot of 1/2 day camps this summer, hopefully that will give him some of the structure he needs.
//update 10/16. We made it through a summer of camps, and found that the camp that was structured most like school (set routine everyday, experienced counselors) was best. (duh, right? the surprise for me was the structure was more important than the theme of the camp)
See this post for more thoughts. Vacations take a lot of planning. Some typical questions I ask myself include: "What will he love without being over stimulating? What foods should I pack so that he doesn't shut down and just drink liquids?" It is not that I want all the decisions to be based around him. But when he is having a difficult time it affects everyone in the family. Sand, water, rock mining, places with maps: those are all good on our list!
We live in a very sports-oriented area. That can be a little awkward at times. We have done gymnastics for the past year and we have really enjoyed it. It is good for his sensory input and his class was non-competitive with the other boys. He wants to try tennis. And swimming might be a good option, but he is very sensitive to the water temperature and his focus tends to vary in the water. We will continue to skip competitive sports like baseball and soccer. Those sports are difficult for a few reasons: he hates to loose and unexpected physical contact is difficult for him.
// update 10/16 we are doing soccer this fall! we picked a non-competitive after school program. its going great so far, so glad we tried it (it was out of my autism-mom comfort zone)!
In the area we live in: it is expected that children will go to college. When you have a child with a neurological difference or disability you take it a year at a time. For now Bryce is advanced in math and struggles with reading and spelling (though at the moment he is on grade level!) With his aptitude for drawing and 3D visualization, we encourage him that he would make a good architect, engineer, or city planner someday. When the time comes if college isn’t in the picture we will help him find training for a suitable job.
Do you have a child with some unique needs? What kind of differences do you encounter?