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Buddy’s Brother

It’s been two months since my last blog post. Right when I decided to post weekly, life happened. This time, it happened in the form of buddy’s brother. I finally have a nickname to use for him for this blog: B2. First, some background, so you understand. (Also, I am exhausted, so if this is rambly or doesn’t make sense, I apologize in advance)

B2 is five years older than Buddy. We used to live in a different state, where they didn’t do testing for special needs until at least third grade. He suffered a lot in school. Finally having him tested in this state was a big cause for celebration.

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This is what it’s like to be high functioning. For Buddy, it’s like this, but magnified.

Autism and Expectations

You don’t look autistic.

Yes I do.

You don’t act autistic though.

Yes I do.

Yeah, but you’re not like “properly” autistic.

Yes I am.

You can make eye contact.

Yes I can.

You don’t flap all the time.

I do at birds.

You flap at birds?

I flap at birds.

Why do you flap at birds?

It would be rude not to wave at them when they wave at me.

That’s a bit weird.

Is it?

But you don’t do all that proper stimming and stuff, do you? Or do you?

Every day. Most moments of every day. See this?

Looks like a tiny bead mat.

Yup. I made it, I made lots of them, for when I lose them. I get distracted easily.

Can I have a go?

Go for it.

It feels nice.

It feels essential.

Why do you do it?

I’m an addict.

But it’s not…

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Buddy and the Local Police

I got offered an incredible opportunity today, and I thought I would share it. This is something that everyone should be doing, so if it’s not available in your area, please consider pushing for it. I suppose I should explain.

I was approached and asked if Buddy and I could train local law enforcement on how to handle Buddy (and others like him) should an emergency arise. I’ll go over meltdowns, how to coax him into being compliant, etc. Continue reading Buddy and the Local Police

Buddy’s Crazy Week

It’s only Tuesday, but this week has been a very odd one for Buddy. Well, for me as well.

Every Monday, I volunteer at a pregnancy resource center 20 minutes away. I usually drop the boys off at school and head in, then grab Lily on my way to pick the boys up from school. Yesterday, though, I received a phone call. “Buddy hit a teacher.”

I was shocked when I heard this, and the woman hung up on me without explaining further, other than to say, “Come pick him up now.” Buddy has only ever hit when he was having a meltdown, and it was more of a thrashing kind of thing. I hurriedly left the center (in the middle of a project) to pick him up. The woman at the office elaborated.

Evidently, Buddy was in a special education group where they work on learning taking turns, looking people in the eyes, things like that. They were having a “dance break,” where they take a moment to dance around before returning to class, as the work they do can be stressful, and this has proven to relax them. Buddy didn’t like the kid next to him dancing so close, and he hid under a desk. When a special education worker (not the usual) approached him and tried to engage him, he flung himself backward, crying out, “Leave me alone!” Evidently when he did so, his arm came out and the back of it connected with her cheek. She promptly contacted the dean of discipline who decided to suspend him for the rest of the day.

What. the. What.

This is wrong on a few levels. As I’ve stated, Buddy doesn’t hit. This was obviously an accident. Suspension is overreacting. As someone in special education, she should know better than to punish him for something he doesn’t understand, not to mention disrupting his schedule.

But wait! They didn’t pull him out of school while they waited for me. They let him continue with his day, completely unaware that anything was about to change, that he had done anything wrong. He continued his day as usual until I arrived.

Buddy was happy to see me, but confused. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t picking him up where I usually do or after his last period. I tried to explain it to him, but he didn’t understand. “I didn’t hit!” he promised. “I don’t hit, or it’s okay to hit me, and I don’t want to be hit!” (I teach my children it’s only okay to hit if it’s in self-defense, and Buddy picked up that meant don’t attack others or they’ll defend themselves)

He protested the whole way to the car. “I don’t go home yet!” I had no way to explain it to him. He was being unjustly punished. The rest of his day was disrupted, since it was off schedule, and therefore quite difficult.

Today was a very different day.

Buddy has come to love haircuts. His hair is thick and he runs hot, so he sweats easily. He’s learned that haircuts keep him cooler, so he looks forward to them. I promised him today that after school would be a haircut.

When I went to pick him up, I was early. He was playing outside for gym. I got to wave at him, and he squealed to his classmates, so I had to wave for everyone. He was positively delighted!

He was the first student out the door at pick up time, and he ran to the car as fast as possible. His brother desperately needed shoes, so we went there first. The shoe store is at an outdoor mall. As we walked by another store on the way back to the car, Buddy saw something inside. To be honest, I can’t remember what, but we went inside to look. It went well, so we went to another store to look around, and another. We were caught up in the fun and birthday planning (all three children have birthdays soon). I forgot about haircuts until we went back to the car, and Buddy excitedly reminded me.

I was concerned. Buddy had a bad day yesterday, and we did a lot of unusual things today. I knew I couldn’t postpone it though, so we went. When we got there, we found that our usual hair stylist for Buddy was incredibly busy with a customer and couldn’t take him today. I let Buddy’s brother go first, hoping she would free up, but no luck. Buddy had to go with a new hairstylist.

I warned him first, and he seemed fine. When she called him up, he seemed fine. She cut his hair, clipped it, all fine. I glanced at Lily to make sure she was okay (she always is, but I’m a worrying mom) and heard the hairstylist turn on the blowdryer.

NO! My mind screamed. I hadn’t expected the new hair stylist, so I forgot to tell her he can’t stand the noise or the sensation. She was blowdrying all over him, including his face, which he absolutely hates.

I made it only two steps closer to him, my mouth opening to tell her to stop, when I realized… Buddy was fine. He was cringing a little, but he wasn’t pulling away, wasn’t crying, wasn’t saying a word. He sat there and waited. She finished up, brushed off the last hairs with her towel, and let him down. He grabbed his lollipop and sat down while he waited for me to pay, as usual.

Buddy went through a new experience without hardly any prior warning and was fine.

Autism being the way it is, I know not to count on this. It’s two steps forward and one step back. But that one step still means we’re closer. Closer to new and exciting things, closer to changing his routine without warning, closer to fun surprises.

Buddy took a big step today.

I wish I could leave it at that, but the rest of the week isn’t going to be easy. I’m attending a conference (long story as to why), which means I can’t pick him up the next two days, so someone else is going to. I won’t be home until after his bedtime, so I won’t even see him for a couple of days. On Friday, his school is having a half day for parent teacher conferences.

It’s already been an interesting week. Here’s hoping the rest is okay for him.

Oh, and Buddy requested a new haircut this time.

Academics or Special Ed?

As I mentioned before, Buddy’s first school last year was a special-ed school. Small class, a teach, two aides. Buddy thrived. We stop by and visit his teacher once in a while.

His teacher had informed us that he could handle general education, so we transferred to a school that focused on the things he excels at, including technology. Now it is time to either re-enroll him or move him to a different school.

Continue reading Academics or Special Ed?

Finding Dory

As previously mentioned, Disney holds a special place in our hearts. While we can’t afford to go to the movies to go see the newest film, we do borrow it from the library as soon as possible. Disney, with the exception of their sequels, tends to make amazing movies that we love. Pixar, on the other hand, is hit-or-miss, and Finding Dory is both.

The movie opens with us getting to look into Dory’s past and see what she was like as a child. Buddy was instantly entranced; they acted so much alike, that he instantly related to her. As the mother of an autistic child, I related strongly to Dory’s mother.

Continue reading Finding Dory

Why Buddy Plays on the Phone, But Not Outside

As usual on social media, there are more than a few memes going around. These are “holier than thou” memes, the type that likes to judge others, look down on them, and degrade them because they partake in something viewed as less than ideal.

When I was growing up, people looked down on the “Trekkies,” people who liked to dress up in costume and go to conventions. It was cool and perfectly fine to dress in costume and go to sporting events, meet your favorite players, but Trekkies were looked down upon.

Continue reading Why Buddy Plays on the Phone, But Not Outside