Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

Have I ever mentioned that I am a bit too over-protective with Oliver? That I'm a little too controlling? A little too watchful? Well, it's true. I know it and yet I can't seem to help it. The problem is that Oliver can, at times, be a bit impulsive. He can just take off quickly and run towards something that catches his eye without a thought to this or that thing that feels like imminent danger to me.

So tonight we walked the two blocks down to Main Street to check out our city's pathetic excuse for a 4th of July parade. OK, all cards on the table here: I have a pretty serious dislike for parades. But honestly, this parade really was about the worst parade I've ever seen. Don't believe me? What city puts their garbage trucks in a parade? Or the bookmobile? Or Joe Bob's roofing contractors? That last was just a beat up old Chevrolet with a hand-made sign on the side. And the sign was made with magic markers for pete's sake. OK, I'm a bit off topic here. And besides, the kids liked the parade. Mostly because they got gobs of candy but oh well.

Anyway, after the parade we decided to walk the length of Main street to check out what else was going on. Our city has a really nice downtown area. The court house sits right in the middle and Main Street detours all the way around it to make a giant public square. There were lots of tents set up with vendors selling one thing or another and tons of people milling around. So Nik and I decided to try a little experiment with our boy. Without holding his hand or saying a word, we walked aimlessly around the festivities. Occasionally we would stop to look at something or talk to someone -- and all the while, Oliver coordinated his actions with ours. And really this shouldn't have surprised me too much -- that's what RDI is all about: teaching kids how to coordinate and synchronize their actions to those of others. Throughout our little experiment tonight we kept a careful watch on him but not once did we have to alert him that we were moving on or that we were changing course. He walked a few feet behind us and sometimes veered around something in the opposite direction, but he always found his way back to us. I was pretty darn impressed, I have to say -- and it also gave me some measure of peace to test how much he is really monitoring us even though it didn't always appear that he was.

I'm still nervous anytime there are cars nearby, but little by little I'm glad to see that Oliver is able to take on a bit more independence. And I'll have to remind myself to give him the freedom to exercise his skills.

Happy Independence Day everyone!!!


  1. I'm impressed too! Way to go Oliver! Being an autism parent is so challenging because we do have to make a conscious effort to let our kids do things that would just evolve naturally with our typical kids. I'm proud of all of you! A good reminder for the rest of us.

  2. Great job Oliver!!

    I am laughing so hard at the description of the parade. Too bad we missed it. :-p

  3. Great job Oliver!

    I try to do the same thing with Andrew when we are out. My husband is such a nervous wreck when he is with us though, that he is constantly either calling him unnecessarily or holding his hand. Andrew has become much more independent on outings with Brian, Kaitlyn and I this summer. I may be looking ahead, but I use my peripheral vision so well now and always have him in my sight still. Sometimes I really do feel like us mom's have eyes in the back of our heads.

  4. Oh you are a brave mama, I am frantic about both my kids. You should see me walking down the street trying to hold my two big boys, and their little brother in a carrier! I think my neighbors make a sport of watching me get in my car!!

  5. Anonymous10:43 AM

    I meant to say that I LOVED reading about Oliver's progress in RDI!!! That was a significant challenge he navigated, coordinating his actions with yours with a LOT of sensory stimulation all around.