I didn’t post yesterday. Quite honestly, I am not sure what I can say about autism and awareness and acceptance that hasn’t already been said. I mean, with the rate at which children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, many of us know of and are well aware of autism. It is everywhere.
Our school has a big bulletin board up at the front of the school. In big bold letters it proclaims, “April is Autism Awareness Month”. The school social worker, who has the biggest heart and a very personal connection to autism, put it up. I like that there’s something up there. I noticed several kiddos in the school were wearing blue yesterday. A few had various “Team _________” shirts on to support loved ones or family friends. So, I do think that the school community is aware.
Now that everyone is aware of autism, I think we need to work on letting those with autism advocate for themselves. I am obviously still advocating for Tate, and will always do what is needed to get him what he needs to succeed. However, I am trying not to speak for him and do everything for him. I’m letting him take the lead a bit more.
At home, lately, when Jake or Cole ask me why Tate is doing something that is seemingly odd, or maybe even annoying to his brothers, I have stopped answering for him. Instead, I ask them to ask Tate. Tate knows why he does things better than I do. For instance, yesterday he was whining in the van. We call it “perma-whine”. It usually happens when he’s worn out and/or hungry. Cole kept asking me why Tate was “crying like that”. I told him to ask Tate. So, Cole did. Tate said, “Cole, I hungry. Soooo very hungry.” And we were on our way to Culvers for a take-out treat, so it made perfect sense. He’d been at school all day, did 3 hours of therapy, and then we visited the library. He was plain old starving by the time we got our food!!
Jake had a musical concert a few weeks ago. We sat in the back row, ready to make an escape, if needed. Tate got a little antsy. Then a little whiny, and then a little oppositional. I know he was trying to find his calm, but it just wasn’t working. Hubz took him out into the hallway at one point, even though Tate said he didn’t want to go. After about 2 minutes, they were back, and Tate was able to watch the musical for a bit. Suddenly, he looked at me and said, “I, I, I need to get out of here. I need to go….I need to go pee.” We quietly left the gym and walked to the bathroom. He used it and came out. He was visibly calmer and more regulated. He just needed to move. So we hung out in the hallway with the toddlers who also needed some sensory breaks. We walked past his classroom. He showed me his locker. We made it back to the gym for the finale of the show. No tears. No shouting. No meltdowns.
This morning we were sitting around waking up and eating breakfast. It was raining outside, and it got a little windy. There was a flash of lightening. Then, obviously, thunder clapped. Tate ran into the kitchen where I was reading the paper. “I’m gonna, gonna….gonna be sick.” It’s a script of his. Often, it means that he’s anxious. He gets, I assume, that fluttery feeling in his tummy. I looked at him, and as we shared a gaze, I told him that he wasn’t going to be sick. I thought he might be anxious…worried…about the thunder. “Yes!” I assured him that he was safe inside. He asked if it was going to rain during the day. Our forecast is for rain on and off throughout the day. I told him as much. “But no thunder, right, Mom?” I explained that there could be thunder, but most likely it was just going to be rain…with maybe a little thunder here and there. I reiterated that he’d be safe in the house, on the bus, and in school. “Okay, Mom. But I sleep with you if there’s thunder tonight.” (Oh, boy…)
So, I guess that this month, since we are both aware and accepting of Tate and his neurology, we’re going to approach this as Autism Advocacy Month. Tate’s language skills have blossomed tremendously lately. Why not let him practice the skills he has worked so hard to gain? Yeah…Autism Advocacy month. I like the ring of that.