I wish the worlds view of Autism would change

I wish the worlds view of Autism would change
WARNING: Graphic information below, not for all audiences.

Justin and I were watching a past episode of Law & Order SVU last night. It was going as pretty much every Law & Order SVU goes, although I haven’t seen an episode in years. This time there was mention of the offender being “on the Spectrum.” Not everyone watching the show would know that “on the Spectrum” means Autistic, but I did, and it bothered me.

I pressed pause and looked at Justin. “I don’t think I want to watch this anymore.” Justin’s an awesome husband, but he didn’t understand why I wanted to stop it. I continued watching the show, but soon pressed pause again.

I told him this. This, which I was shocked I hadn’t told him. This, that our life has been too overwhelmed to talk about.

I told Justin stories I’ve heard in the past weeks that break my heart and make me fear for our son, Jeremiah.

A few weeks ago a mother killed her Autistic son, London. She threw him off a bridge.

Heartbreaking. Unimaginable. My heart cries for this six-year-old boy. Just one-year older than my son. In photos, he’s smiling, looks engaged, and is playing, flying a toy plane for the photographer. He didn’t know what was being done to him when his mother made this murderous choice, he was scared. The world hears that Autism is too hard to handle, it’s too much, it’s too difficult, so much so, that a mother has to kill her son to avoid whatever it is that she felt was stopping her from living her life. This is the worlds view of Autism, many times their only view.

A twenty-two-year-old Autistic man was in the news recently. He’s in jail, having spent most of his time (three-years) in solitary confinement because an officer didn’t know how to correctly handle Autism.

I cried as I told these stories. I cried for young Landon, because of the pain and fear he felt at not being accepted and loved as a child should. He viewed the world differently, and in turn was treated differently, he was treated as if his life wasn’t worth living. The isolation he felt must have been excruciating. The despair he must have felt every day, living with a mother who didn’t see who he was, agonizing. The terror as his mom threw him over the bridge into freezing, icy water…No words.

I cried as I told Justin about Neli, the young Autistic man who was arrested because someone thought he was carrying a gun near a school. He reacted to a cop asking his name and handling him, so would many Autistic people. They’re overwhelmed and some don’t want to be touched. I feel for him as he sits in solitary confinement, how uncomfortable he must be, how he’s going without things that calm him. I wonder what he’s eating, because people with Autism have very special diets.

In these stories I hear, I wonder what Jeremiah would do. I worry about him.

I finished watching the Law & Order SVU episode, but shouldn’t have, I felt horrible afterwards. The teen is shot in the end, when there could have been an arrest made instead of death. This is what the world sees of Autism.

Autism Speaks isn’t much better. I used to go to their website, share the blue puzzle piece, and lit it up blue. But then I started listening to the adult’s who have Autism (or “are Autistic” as they like to be referred to) and many have strong opinions on Autism Speaks. In a miniscule nutshell, they don’t portray Autism in a positive light at all, it’s very negative.
It's not sad that my son has Autism

The general populace doesn’t understand Autism. They only know what the news tells them, and most of it isn’t good.

What’s not in the news?

Autistic people like my son, the ones who are loving and kind. Those people with Autism don’t make the news, unless they’re savants, and then only sometimes. Autistic people aren’t murderers or law-breakers, they aren’t people to be feared or locked away, or treated with shock therapy.

I wish the world knew Jeremiah. I wish they saw his smiles, his laugh, his sense of humor. I wish they could see him for who he is, not what he can’t do, or what he can’t say. I wish I didn’t have to fear what will happen to my son. The bullying, the stares, the misunderstanding.

I can’t live in fear, but it’s so hard to keep out the loud voices. The what-ifs. So, I try to push out the worries, and focus on how we will take care of Jeremiah. We will be here. Always. And as I protect my son, I will strive to share the positives of Autism. I will share with hospitals how to treat people with Autism, and hopefully that will meld into sharing with emergency personnel. And, I will write, write, write.


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the war on National Adoption Month

the war on National Adoption Month
Adoptees are “flipping the script” during National Adoption Month, sharing the other, unattractive side of adoption. It’s their right. I’m not an adoptee and can’t speak for them, but part of me doesn’t like seeing this opportunity of beauty turned into something that’s looked down upon.

Now, some will probably raise hairs at my mention of adoption being an opportunity of beauty, but for some it is. I see our story as beautiful. Sure there have been some really ugly, horrible moments, days, weeks, months, but we’ve come through it, and I’ve experienced such unparalleled joy and contentment. It’s beautiful.

Why is it beautiful? Because I can separate what my children went through, their abuse, neglect, and trauma, from their adoption. What they went through before foster care, I would compare with hell, what they went through while visiting their bio parents while in foster care wasn’t much better,but

now we see new lives, new people emerging. Beauty.

We know their lives wouldn’t be what they are now if we hadn’t adopted them. I’m not tooting my horn, saying I’m the best parent, because I’m not, sometimes I suck. But, this is the truth, their lives are drastically altered in a good way because of adoption. When my son was with his bio dad, he was crying himself to sleep every day as an infant, he wasn’t held, when temperatures were in the teens, he was taken around town in a stroller when it wasn’t necessary (his bio dad had a house). Jeremiah was developmentally delayed, his bio father, having the IQ of a six-year-old had no idea what to do with him and didn’t want to take advice from others. My son was dying, partly on the outside, but mostly on the inside.

At three-months he came to us with a horrible case of cradle cap, his hoodie’s zipper was melted together, and pieces of plastic were adhered to the inside of his hood, grime was stuck between his fingers and toes. At three-months he was still in the fetal position, and it took weeks of stretching exercises to slowly get him to relax.

I cry now when I think of his past, it wrecks me to think about what could have been. I now see a happy boy, despite his Autism, despite what others “think” he should be like because he has this diagnosis. He brings me joy every day. When he tumbles into the living room with his arms full of blankets to “nest” on the couch, I laugh and contentment fills my heart. When he sits on his swing, pumps his legs, and goes high in the air, my cheeks burst with bliss because I never thought he’d be able to do this.

If he hadn’t been adopted, he wouldn’t be.

That’s why “flipping the script” on adoption day is so painful. The world is taking what is often a positive event and turning the tables, focusing on those who don’t feel it was a good thing for them.

For all intents and purposes, I think National Adoption Month was created so people would see the need for adoption (153,000,000 children world-wide need forever homes) and for those who adopted to celebrate their children.

Those who are “flipping the script” aren’t adoptees who are happy and content with their adoption experience, they’re the ones who are angered, feel like something was done to them. The ones who feel they were ripped from their first family, from their country, are hurt by positive adoption language.

They’re blaming “adoption” in itself when in reality it should be the system they were adopted from (one that doesn’t allow them to search for their birth family), or a corrupt system (adopting children out under false pretenses). The adoptive families shouldn’t be blamed, and the good of adoption shouldn’t be attacked either.

The adoptees who aren’t speaking out (and far outnumber those who are calling out adoption) are the ones who are satisfied in life, the ones who accept their adoptive family as their own, ones who’ve found their birth family and either have a good relationship with them or have decided to let it be.

All the adult adoptees I’ve met and know personally are very happy, having been adopted, they aren’t searching for more meaning, and frankly, they’re grateful. I don’t expect my children to be grateful, but what if they are? Is that wrong?

I’m surprised at the negativity surrounding what should be a joyous celebration. Yes, there’s pain in adoption, I won’t deny it’s existence, but there’s so much good too.

I read on a blog post the other day that (in the authors opinion) God hates adoption. They’re reasoning is because “adoption means brokenness.”

There will be brokenness in this world, and adoption is a way to heal the shattered and try to make it right.

I feel really bad for parents who are looking in to adoption and find that first spark of excitement, they’re ignited with enthusiasm to start the process, to bring a foster child, orphan, or infant into their home, then they’re bombarded with how “bad” adoption is. The world is hearing these voices and they’re hearing adoption is negative, causes pain, and isolation.

In reply to the article, Adoptees Like Me “Flip the Script” on the Pro-Adoption Narrative, Renee says, “In my opinion, adoption does too much damage, and it should be a VERY last resort. As an adoptee, I don’t believe adoption serves the best interest of babies/children. No child should have to be legally severed from her family and heritage…”

In response to this, I would say, yes, adoption should be a last resort, but isn’t that what it is? What about the mother who decides she can’t parent her child and chooses adoption? Isn’t that her last resort? What about the children in foster care? Isn’t foster care the last resort, and then if the parent can’t get it together, isn’t adoption the last resort? I’ve heard an adoptee who was adopted from another country say her family was waiting for her back in “her country.” Where was her family when she was in the orphanage? Wasn’t adoption by a foreign couple a last resort? Because I hope we can all agree that an orphanage would not be the best solution.

I don’t want to belittle anyones experience, after all, it’s their own. I can’t speak as an adoptee. Maybe there should be separate months, one for National Adoption Month and a month for adoptees to share their feelings, like an Adoptee Awareness Month.

I don’t want adoption to be wrought with talk about how wrong it is, but the fact is, there is pain surrounding adoption. In most cases it isn’t in the adoption itself that causes pain, but in the events surrounding the adoption. Yet, there’s so much that is beautiful about adoption, and I feel it’s beginning to get lost in the muddle, in the anger, in the “political correctness.” Want to know what’s politically correct?

Most adopted children have a new chance at life. 

You can receive each post made to Lovin’ Adoptin’ by subscribing in the upper right corner, no spam promise. If you’re on a mobile device, you can do this on the web version. You can also like me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest for more helpful information and links. Happy National Adoption Month!

our special needs adoption: how God showed up at every turn

Special needs adoption - God
For National Adoption Month, I asked my friend, Christy, to write their story for Lovin’ Adoptin’. Enjoy!
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On July 17, 2013, I received a text from my sister that would completely alter what our family looked like. She texted to let me know a friend of hers was working with an adoption agency that was trying to a place an almost one-year-old boy who had Down Syndrome.

My heart skipped a beat and my mind started racing.

From the time I was a teenage girl, God had given me a special love for people and kids with special needs, specifically Down Syndrome. While in high school, I surrendered my life to full-time service for God however He chose to use me. One calling on my life was to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. It was different than just wanting too. I began telling people as a high school student that one day I was going to be a mother to a child with Down Syndrome. People would nod as if to say, “That’s neat”, but not truly believing it would come to fruition. God gave me this desire.  He provided it deep in my being. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The Lord was the provider of the desire. God provides.

I made a phone call to the agency and explained why I was calling. The agency director answered the phone and told me about a baby boy with Down Syndrome who was almost one. They were trying to find a family to commit to adopt him to keep him from being moved to an institution. “Institution?” I asked. “Where is this baby?” She answered, “Ethiopia.” Minor detail that I failed to think through before I called.

International adoption had never been on my radar. She asked if we had a home study already. Another minor detail…we hadn’t completed (or even started for that matter) a home study.  Oh and one more thing…we didn’t have any money either. Kindly, the agency director basically told me there was no possible way to get everything done for us quick enough to keep this boy from going to the institution. I hung up the phone and started preparing to present my case to my husband, Matt, when he came home for lunch.
Sellers collage

Matt came home from lunch and he was not expecting what I laid out on the table! I told him about my phone call and about this little boy sleeping on the other side of the world. Of course, he immediately had questions of how, when, where, how much? We prayed and he said, “Make some phone calls and we’ll talk about it more later.” I called the agency and told them we’d like to pray about it through the weekend and we’d call them back on Monday.

I didn’t want to pressure Matt into making a decision. I would say “Yes” in a heartbeat to this little boy, but I wanted him to lead in this decision. I began again surrendering this to God and asking that God would lead my husband in the way we should go. God provided Matt with an answer. With tears in his eyes, Matt tells me on Saturday morning that through the night he couldn’t sleep and began praying. Then he said, “God told me that Endale is our son.” God provides.

That weekend, I also got a phone call from a lady who I’d found locally to do a home study. She tells me that she needs to get the home study done quickly because she is also a teacher and school was about to begin. Our home study was complete in a little more than two-weeks. God provides.

Now was the question of where we were going to come up with $34,000. We had saved up $500 in a drawer hoping to eventually take our kids to Disneyland someday. When it came time to pay for our home study, the lady said she needed half the payment to begin. The total was $1000, so we handed over our $500 having no idea where the rest would come from. Five months into the process, we were fully funded for the adoption through grants, fundraisers and penny pinching in every way possible. God provides.
Sellers kids

Fast forward to our time to travel to meet our sweet boy face to face.  I have in the past struggled with a fear of flying. For the most part, I felt like I had overcome it, but a twelve-hour flight from the USA to Africa was daunting. I was on my hands and knees begging God to give me His overwhelming peace about flying when I found out that Matt would be staying in Ethiopia and I would be traveling back alone. Perfect peace as only He can give on all my flights. Again, God provides. 

I could give you story after story about the way God worked out the timing while Matt was in Ethiopia with Endale. I personally know another mother from our agency that has been in Ethiopia for five-months waiting to come home. Matt came home from Ethiopia two-weeks after our court date. God provides.

Then, God provided plane tickets through long-time friends so that I could meet and join Endale and Matt as soon as they were back in the US. God provides.

It’s easy to see Endale’s viewpoint, God has provided for him a family forever to love him unconditionally. I’m certain each family member in our house would tell you that God has blessed us with unending smiles, a new sense of contentment and renewed joy for everyday life thanks to having Endale in our lives. God provides.

I don’t know what our future will look like after the adoption of our child with Down Syndrome. I know for now it means a lot of doctor’s appointments, therapy several times a week, patience in teaching concepts and learning new things about Down Syndrome every day. I know it means we may have to sacrifice things in the future. I can testify that God has been faithful to our family, Endale included, over and over again. He will provide the tools and insight to nurture our family and our son. He will give us the strength to give our son the best possible care we can for him. He will fill us when we’re empty.  He will meet our needs. God provides.

Jehovah Jireh: One of many names of God that means, “The Lord will provide.”
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Many thanks to Christy and her family for sharing their story! May you all find something to celebrate during National Adoption Month.

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special needs: how kids accept one another

special needs how kids accept one another_2

Photo courtesy of Knightsbridge Photography

You can listen to a recording of this post by scrolling to the end.
*****

Gotta love kids right? Since having a son with Autism, I’ve seen a whole new side of children I hadn’t seen before. I’ve worked with kids for years, I’ve been a teacher and a nanny, and only since watching kids and how they interact with Jeremiah did I gain a whole new perspective.

Kids accept each other, despite what obstacles stand in the way.

What obstacles might that be? Well, Jeremiah can’t talk, he doesn’t play with other kids (he’s only beginning to parallel play, meaning play next to other kids, not with them), he doesn’t usually smile at other kids, he doesn’t share what he’s playing with, and I will reiterate that first point again, he doesn’t talk. I feel that point is so important because our society in general doesn’t easily make friends with people who don’t talk, but not only doesn’t Jeremiah talk, he can’t communicate.

You would think even in a child’s world commonalities and similar interests would bring two kids together and they would want to be friends. This isn’t so with Jeremiah and his little friends. Jeremiah is usually in his own world, he’s slowly breaking free from it, but he doesn’t engage with these other children who consider him their friend.

Two years ago, when Jeremiah was three, he started preschool. A girl named Zoe quickly became his best friend. Zoe even called him her boyfriend. Jeremiah had no clue which is the most adorable part. Okay, there are more adorable parts. Zoe is a sweet girl, a tiny little thing, so cute, has leg braces, and uses a pint-sized wheel chair. Love her. And, she loves Jeremiah, they’re now in their third year of preschool together. I think it’s a lifelong friendship, maybe they’ll even get married. ;) That’s just a little of the Mommy of a child with Autism hoping for the future.

The other day when I picked Jeremiah up from school, a boy in his class said good-bye to Jeremiah, then proceeded to tell me, “I know Jeremiah.” I was thrilled. This boy “knows” my son, my son who doesn’t talk, or reciprocate relationships. Well, he does reciprocate a little, he likes sitting by Miss Zoe in circle-time.
When special needs students are included

My brother-in-law, Rob, once said, “Kids and dogs.” This was after Jeremiah let him hold him during a time in Jeremiah’s life when only mom, dad, and Grandmas and Grandpas could hold him. We told Rob we couldn’t believe Jeremiah went to him, and then he made that statement, meaning that kids and dogs know people, they have intuition for who someone is.

These kids know Jeremiah and the sweet spirit he has. They like him for who he is, even if he can’t communicate, play swords, or if he eats the play dough. They accept him. They’re learning through being in class with special needs children that we are all unique and different in some way, and acceptance is part of everyday life.

No, not all kids give Jeremiah attention, but then not all kids are friends and get along with everyone, neither do adults. However, I’ve been surprised and pleased each time a child is aware of Jeremiah, says “Hi” to him, or tells me they like him. What joy it gives me to know that kids like my son, who happens to have Autism. Many of them will grow up with him, go through school with him, and hopefully stand by him if he’s ever bullied. I’m very grateful to these kids, kids who are only doing what is natural, before the rest of the world and it’s judgements get in the way.

Another example of this acceptance is in the picture at the top of this post. It’s Jeremiah and his sister. She’s now an amazing special needs advocate, compassionate with those who have special needs, and is in tune to their needs. I write more about her and her relationship with her brother in the post, Hurting Children CAN Develop Empathy.

Does your child with special needs have friends? Does this surprise you?

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setting up for success: preparing your family for adoption & foster care

Setting Up For Success
You can listen to a recording of this post. Just scroll down to the bottom of the article and don some ear buds. Don’t forget to share if you find it helpful. Thanks!

Cheating on Desperate Housewives, taking a foray from Downton Abbey, skipping a golf game? We wouldn’t even think about it, or would we? Can we take time away from these activities for a short season until our newly adopted infant sleeps through the night? While our child takes time to make healthy attachments, because that will only take a couple of weeks, or a couple of months at the most, right?

Preparing for adoption begins long before our child comes home. We may think the first steps to adopting begin when we file our first mound of paperwork, or when we sit through those first classes that bombard us with information, but in reality our preparation should begin long before that. We must assess our life, family roles, and our hobbies.

where is your focus?

When we decide to adopt, I don’t believe we sign a dotted line that says, “We promise this will be easy.” Our kids are going to need our focus, all of us, especially during their first years with us. If our children need our intense focus, we will need to assess our lifestyle to see what works and what doesn’t.

What are your hobbies and interests? Weekly four-hour golf games? Two-hour workout sessions? Triathlon? Weekend social gatherings? Before our daughter came to us through foster care, my husband and I went to they gym three days a week. Dropping her off at the gym daycare meant leaving her with people she didn’t know, in yet another unfamiliar place. I quickly realized that’s not what I wanted for her. 

Take a look at what’s important to you, what can you delay doing for a while so your child can get the best start possible. I’m not saying every family has to stop going to the gym, or avoid social outings, each family is individual, but you will need to make priorities, and that first consideration is the precious child you’re bringing into your home.

Instead of feeling like you have to put off some of your hobbies, try including the whole family, with everyone’s interests in mind. Think of activities your family can do together. If you’re considering exercise, involve everyone. Go on family bike rides, or walks, dance together with a Wii game. If it’s cooking, have the kids help with measuring and mixing. If it’s scrapbooking, have the kids make their own books. If you’re a fan of sports, get the whole family dressed up and cheering.

At the same time, you don’t want to ignore your own needs, find out what fills you up emotionally and spiritually, and try to make time to do these. Your new kids will need you to be emotionally invested, so you want to be sure your filling that area of your life, not only depleting it.

the family unit reconsidered

A family is a whole unit, not just mom or dad juggling everything on their own. (Unless you’re single, and in that case you can look for some outside support.) A family with only biological kids has a lot on their hands; cleaning, cooking, school, work, after-school activities, homework, yard work, shopping, and social activities. Then add in an adoptive child and their needs.

Because of these busier schedules, gone are the days when mom did the cooking and dad watched football every evening, or at least for a larger percentage of Americans, those days are gone. We don’t have such defined roles anymore, which is good when it comes to the family dynamic when you adopt. We all need to step out of our comfort zones. When dad is involved with the kids, they do better, so don’t be afraid to shift roles. If mom is at home with the kids all day, dad can give her an evening to do what she wants, give her a day on the weekend to relax and be without the kids. Support each other, and don’t be defined by societies rules for roles.

I don’t feel like my husband is defined by specific roles. He’s really involved with our kids, and I believe a large part of their progress is due to him, not only because he’s interactive with them, but because he supports me. When I feel relaxed and happier, I’m a better mom, which results in a better environment for our children. He’ll make dinner, take the kids grocery shopping (yes, I said that), and have our daughter help him when he’s doing a project around the house. When both of our kids had special needs, this helped me get more done and I didn’t feel the weight of their “needs” being completely on my shoulders.

getting on the same page, or at least in the same book

I have no idea how some parents do it. Those who have different child rearing beliefs. One believes in spanking, one doesn’t. One wants to use consequences, one only wants to give the child choices. Being two polar opposites in our ideas of how a child should be raised can cause division, not only between spouses, but also with the kids. Our children know when we aren’t on the same page. We’ve had some really big blow-ups come from our daughter when we weren’t in agreement on something that had to do with her.

Yet, I’m not a fool to believe parents are always of one accord. My husband and I don’t agree on everything, he’s usually a lot more lenient than I am, but we balance each other out. Sure, I become unsettled when he lets the kids get away with something I’ve been working on corralling for weeks, but when I look at the overall picture, it’s good that we aren’t exactly the same. If we didn’t have slightly differing views, we might be a rigid household without much grace, or we would be too free and not have the consistency our kids require.

A little difference can be good, but too much can confuse our children and put rifts between us parents. It’s really important to talk about your parenting styles before you adopt or foster. What are your expectations, how do each of you plan on handling situations that arise?

Before you write those down in permanent marker, be aware that if your adopted child has experienced any trauma (even an infant being removed from his birth mother can cause trauma), they will not respond as a biological child would. This means that no matter what experience you have with kids who have not been traumatized, neglected, or abused, raising your child may look very different from what you imagined.

It’s extremely important to receive adequate pre-adoption training, and to continue learning after you adopt.

If a business requires its employees to continue trainings, and educators and professionals continue their education to better their career, then it shouldn’t be a whole lot different with us and how we raise our adopted kids, because they are more important than a business.

Keep open communication with each other. As you sit through trainings, read articles, books, and blogs, and watch videos, discuss what you agree with and what you don’t. Run it through your heart filter. Intuition plays a big role here. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Just because a nationally known therapist tells you to do something, it doesn’t mean they’re right.

Adoptive parents often place priorities on where they want to adopt from, what agency they want to work with, whether they would like a boy or girl, and what age. Understandably, all that’s very important, but the preparation is priceless. The more you can prepare your family for your new addition, the better it will go. I’m not promising smooth sailing, but at least your boat will be waterproof.

*This article first appeared in Adoption Today magazine’s January 2014 issue.

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on hold: when skills in Autism fluctuate

on hold- when skills in Autism fluctuateAn audio version of this post is available at the end. Scroll down if you’d like to listen.

Parent/Teacher Conferences. Fun right? Actually, I’m kinda weird and I “like” talking to my son’s teacher. She’s great with Jeremiah, cares deeply about him, understands what it’s like to have a child with Autism, and the best part, she has a son with Autism. She gets it, but she also loves what she does, she really understands Jeremiah and works so well with him. I’m sorry she’s not your child’s teacher. Really I would share if I could.

So, now that you understand how amazing she is (if you follow Lovin’ Adoptin’ you only hear about her, oh, every other week at least), I’ll share a bit of what she said in our conference. She said there were some things Jeremiah’s doing that are really exciting, and some things that are really frustrating.

Some of the good things she’s seeing is, he’s looking at himself, specifically his mouth in the mirror a lot, and if teachers or therapists join him, he really engages with them. Jeremiah said the word, “cracker,” when one of his therapists pointed to her own mouth and enunciated it. He’s playing with play dough, although he is licking it, which is better than eating it, which I could not get him to stop doing this summer. (And no worries, we’re keeping our germs to ourselves, he has his own bag now.)

The things she’s frustrated about are, he won’t do what he used to do. No puzzles, they at least used to be able to do this hand-over-hand. No shape sorter, no interest in shapes at all. This kid used to be THE fastest shape sorter in the history of man kind, that’s right, Guinness Book of World Records right here. No more, but that hasn’t been there for well over a year. Nor will he do work boxes, they used to be able to encourage him to do those too. Nope.

As to why Jeremiah isn’t participating in these activities, Justin’s mind started going to the seizures he’s had recently. He felt the seizures had to do with his lack of interest, which could be a possibility, but I haven’t seen the regression I have before. He’s completely lost skills at times in his life, but this seems different. So my mind went in another direction.
Autism skills put on hold

I had a thought, or quite a few to be exact. When we worked with the Developmental Interventionist, she pointed out to us that during the times when I freaked out and thought Jeremiah was losing a skill, he was actually putting it on hold (sometimes) while working on the new skill or focus. For example, if he was needing a ton of sensory input, he would be jumping, swinging, needing push-pulls done on the floor, etc., he would stop using the PECS pictures. He’s done this throughout his development.

It seems that a lot of what Jeremiah is doing right now is social.

I remembered and told his teacher about an instance a couple weeks ago, where he was sitting down in a circle with some other kids. He stayed there, which was awesome in itself, and he was holding some blocks and the other kids were building and playing with their own. It was so awesome because he really doesn’t parallel play.

Then they talked about how when Justin takes him to school, he’s actually skipping through the play yard into class! Yeah, totally cool, especially for a kid who cried and screamed when he had to go to school last year. Now he’s excited and so are we! He goes into class and stands at one end of the room where he has a visual of all the other kids and parents coming and going.

He watches.

Add that with how he watched the therapist in class make the “cracker” sound, and the awareness he has of his mouth, how engaging he is when his teachers join him in front of the mirror, and the situations I listed above, and I think he’s focusing on the social aspect of life right now. That’s awesome because he’s never been this intent on other people before, and never on other kids. He has his “girlfriend” who he’ll sit by, but usually not other kids unless they’re in the rocking boat, and since that’s paired with his favorite, sensory, he’ll deal with it for a couple minutes. But it seems that a whole new awareness is taking place and it’s thrilling.

So, just to encourage you parents, if you see your child isn’t doing something, or skills come and go, remember that sometimes those “skills” might just be placed on hold while something else is developing. We really don’t know how the Autistic brain works, but it works differently and they may need that time to put a skill aside while they work on another. For me, it’s really taken some of the frustration away when I can see it like this.

Has your child ever lost skills? Have you noticed that your child puts some on hold while working on others?

If you feel this helped you understand a little more about Autism, or it made you feel as though you’re not so alone, feel free to share it with others.

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