Last Sunday I took Oliver to the grocery store with me as usual and he did fantastic. Until we got to the checkout. We went later in the day than usual and it was really busy and when I tried to get him to help me put the items on the conveyor belt he started to get upset. I was surprised because I thought we had worked through this about a year ago when we made many, many trips to the store for just one thing so that he could quickly see that he always got the item back after we paid for it. So, surprised as I was, I didn't persist in getting him to help me. I switched modes entirely to let's just get this done quickly and get out of here. I switched into emergency mode. But it didn't matter because Oliver also went into full melt-down mode. I could see that people were trying not to look at us. And who knows what was going through the mind of the cashier and the bagger as I threw my credit card at them from where I kneeled on the floor next to Oliver. But when Oliver got up and we both walked out together, I made sure to tell him, loudly, how proud I was of him.
Later in the week Oliver twice went into the bathroom and used it. On his own. Without prompting. We celebrated with cake and ice cream.
Then, on Wednesday, we coincidentally arrived at the park at the same moment as a friend and her children. My friend has a son Oliver's age on the spectrum and I was so happy to run into her because it had been ages since we had time to talk. But watching her son talk and try to play with Oliver and try to get my attention was hard. For the rest of the evening a comment made by one of Oliver's therapists -- about how low-functioning he was -- became an uninvited sound track in my head.
Then I discovered that another mother I know has hired the same RDI consultant to work with her. We talked on the phone for 40 minutes and our mutual excitement and optimism bouyed me. An ally. We're on different ships but in the same deep, dark water. There is no way to describe how reassuring that is.
I often wonder how different my parenting experience is from that of others. I try really hard not to blame everything on the autism. Parenting is just hard. Period. And maybe some of it is MY neurological make up. Maybe the highs of my ups and the lows of my downs are such as they are because of the way I'M wired. I don't guess I'll ever know. But as I look back over my week -- over my year -- I have to wonder if I will ever get back to an even keel.