Quiet victories

My son’s caregiver has been on a well-earned vacation for a week.  I’ve been with my son 24/7 for the last 7 days.  If you’ve been reading along, you know this is a lot of work.  This time, though – it was different.

This morning, he slept in until I got him up for breakfast, he watched a tv show while he ate – and didn’t touch the remote once – just watched tv and ate like a normal kid.  Then he took his dishes to the kitchen – unprompted – and announced he was finished with breakfast.  I told him to go take a shower – and with a few grumbles and growls – he complied easily – washed himself, dried himself, put on deodorant, dressed himself and got ready for school on his own – except the socks – socks still get a “help please?” which I don’t mind.  He’s doing so much for himself now.

We went outside to wait for the bus – He likes to explore the front yard for a few minutes in the morning.  Gives him a physical, appropriate outlet for the stim energy.  Walking laps around the car instead of jumping and arm flapping and mouth noises.  He can hear when the bus turns onto our street, and this morning, I decided to see what he would do.

He stopped, then walked calmly to the end of the driveway and stood like a statue – while the bus rolled up, and stopped.  He did not move a muscle until the bus doors opened, then he calmly walked to the bus and got on board.

Not once did I issue any prompts – verbal or non-verbal.

My boy got on the bus today all by himself like a grown up boy.

Also, this past weekend, I started seriously limiting screen time with the iPad. While initially, it seemed to calm him down a lot and keep him entertained, he would wind himself up with it – and not want to sleep or eat or do much else.  Then he’d run the battery down and not want to keep the charger plugged in – so it would go dead – and we’d have withdrawal which meant crying, wailing, fits of anger, disbelief, and running up and down the hallway shrieking.  It wasn’t a problem for him to have it at bedtime because he’d usually roll over and go to sleep around 9 PM or so.  He stayed up one night until 10:30 with the iPad until I took it away.  The next day, he was feeling a little groggy – but I talked with his teacher and his therapist, and explained that CJ was learning about choices and consequences.  If you stay up too late doing time-wasting things, you won’t have the energy to do the good stuff.  We tough-loved him through the day – he wasn’t dozing off or anything, just noticeably tired.  Now the iPad goes away at 8:30 PM, and we get it back after school the next day.  He has cried a little at bedtime, but not complained or melted down – and I’ve let him cry about it.  It’s a soft sad cry – and only lasts a few minutes.  As a baby, he never really cried – so maybe that’s just something we’ve got to catch up on – it’s okay to have a cry now and then – sometimes that is all the control you have in a situation.   I’ve been very blessed that sleep has never really been an issue for CJ – 8 hours during the night every night.  We never needed medication to help with his sleep issues.

I’m pleased with how the last 7 days have gone.   I’ve done the last 7 days entirely on my own – And we did fine.   It will be nice to have his caregiver back at work though.  He’s missed her and I’ve missed her too.  She’s one of the very few people I trust to care for my son – because I know she cares about him almost as much as she does her own kids.

I don’t think he’s going to try to run away or elope from home anymore.  I think he finally trusts me.  I know today I feel more relaxed than I have in maybe years.  I’ll do my hour of housework in a little while, then I get to rest today.    Don’t worry – I got plenty of sleep – ate healthy – I’m just still fighting this cold that is going around.

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Pearl Manhattan

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