Saturday, November 12, 2005

Autism Is A World

Oliver is just pretty damn impressive.

On Friday, Lindsey told me that he has been he has been initiating play with other children fairly regularly at school. He has also graduated to Phase II of PECs. He has worked through his trouble using the visual schedule and now mostly complies without needing to be wrestled to the thing. He is taking more and more interest in his little brother. The phrase we hear him most often repeating is: "It's a baby!" His tantrums have become rather infrequent (although we had a doozy on Friday night but I will attribute that to one over-tired little boy) . A certain disturbing behavior involving a bodily function hasn't occurred in a week. And tonight he ate baked fish and zuchinni creole for dinner! Every last bite of it. And then after his bath he said, "I want to go to sleep, " took my hand and led me to the stairs.

Mid-afternoon we went to the park to help a dear friend of mine celebrate the birthday of her daughter. Her little girl was born just a few months after Oliver and we had enjoyed our pregnancies together. When our kids were both a few months old we used to spread a blanket close-by to the kids castle playground and watch the children run and play while our own infants chewed and drooled on everything in sight. Those were in the days before I could imagine that a thing like autism could change everything about the present and the future. Oliver did great at the playground but due to the unseasonably warm weather there were a lot of kids climbing around and so while I tried to interest him in playing his only thoughts were on escaping. Time after time I caught him and pulled him back to a slide or swing. Finally, we compromised and I let him play in the pea gravel off to one side. I was feeling pretty bad about things as I watched him repeatedly bury his hand in the rocks against the soundtrack of the shouts and laughter of the other kids. I never see his disability as acutely as I do when there are typical kids around. But fairly soon the other kids came to rest next to Oliver and they played in the rocks side-by-side. Of course they were all playing together and Oliver was in his own little world -- but at least he didn't seem so all alone.

When we got home from the park Nik asked how it went and I reported that Oliver did great. And he really did. Even though he tried repeatedly to escape he was easily redirected. He transitioned well from place to place. And he smiled that killer smile that melts my heart. So Oliver did great. It's just his mom that has a little trouble from time to time.

After the kids went to sleep we settled on the couch to watch the documentary, "Autism is a World" about 26-year old Sue Rubin, a completely non-verbal autistic woman. This impressive woman was thought to be mentally retarded until the age of 13 when she began to communicate using a keyboard. Now she is a Junior in college and has an IQ of 140. The documentary was very good and the tale it told about this young woman was inspiring. But I couldn't help wonder what percentage of the autism population she represents. Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that every person presents differently -- the World of Autism for Sue Rubin is probably very different than the World of Autism for Oliver.

But today everything in our little World was good: Oliver is making incredible strides, we got a mid-November dose of fresh air, and the kids were both in bed and asleep by 7pm giving me a bit of time to write here and to read the other autism blogs that keep make me feel a part of the Constellation.

1 comment:

  1. Like Oliver, Andrew loves to play off to the side in the leaves or picking up sticks when we are at the playground. Like you, I am constantly redirecting him to climb, slide and swing. He keeps trying to escape and I keep bringing him back. It is those small moments of interaction that are important and the more we keep redirecting, the more moments there will be.