Autism around this place is like a zero to sixty E-Ticket ride of unexpected, seemingly disconnected, ups and downs. Over time we have been able to develop a mild ability to discern upcoming tweaks, and twitches in the course, but still have no ability to predict or foretell the direction these course changes might take, how long they will last, or their end results.

Take this past week for instance. We had several incidents where Ethan was just overwhelmed by his environment and wanted nothing to do with either my wife, me, or both of us simultaneously.

What brought these frustrations on probably stemmed from a change in his schedule. Take early last week, my wife was volunteering at the Phoenix Temple Open House and needed to take Ethan to Grandma's. He was accustomed to his routine computer time, which needed to be cut short. For that, for two solid days, my wife received the brunt of his dissatisfaction. Through out those two days she heard him say things such as...
I don't need a mom! All I need is dad...
When I was in the room with her he would indirectly aim his verbal blows at her with such things as...
You're a better dad than mom...
Mom, she destroyed me!
You're smarter than mom...
Eventually, he let go of the cutting remarks, and as my wife would put him to bed she would have this exchange with him.
      I love you, my sweet boy!
I love you, my sweet mom!
      Goodnight my sweet, handsome, boy!
Goodnight my sweet, beautiful mom!
By Monday, it would be my turn for the cutting remarks, and the irritation. For Family Home Evening, we had gone for a tour of the Phoenix Temple with Grandpa and Grandma. Ethan relaxed through the opening video presentation where they presented a brief history of the church in Phoenix and then the tour began. By the time we made it into the foyer of the temple - about two minutes into the actual tour - Ethan was officially done and wanted to go home. I coaxed him through minute by minute with a few hugs, some whispered encouragements, and holding hands. As we rounded the last hallway corner of the 20 minute tour Ethan maxed out. We quickly rushed the remaining 20 yards of hallway and exited the building.

We had made it through with nary a profane word being uttered. That is until we reached the fountained courtyard in the front of the temple where dozens of families were gathered to take pictures and visit about their tour experience.

Sensing that Ol' Faithful was about to blow, and not wanting to devastate any families, we worked our way quickly through the crowd and to a secluded corner when the ugly words began to spill out. A few minutes of deep pressure hugs sufficed to bring things to a more manageable uneasiness and we were able to capture a few pictures.

But just as quickly as the shutter snapped open and shut he was done with the temple, and off we headed towards the exit. As we left the ugly words began again.

Having, ourselves, tired of using the "Do you need to say it one more time" approach (we just couldn't stand having to listen to the ugly words over and over, and sometimes he felt he needed to say them several times before he was through - but it was a worthy experiment) we have been trying a new approach: the Fix It approach. When ugly words come out we tell him to "fix it" and he has to substitute another word for the ugly word. Sometimes when we know the ugly word is coming, we can preemptively have him "fix it." As an example, while leaving the temple grounds we recognized one of those preemptive moments as Ethan started with, "Oh, Shi..." "Fix it," my wife and I called out quickly, in unison. Without so much as a pause or a breath, Ethan carried the initial syllable and corrected it as "Shi---------------itake Mushrooms!"

Back in the car we headed for dinner. This meant a stop at McDonald's for "two cheeseburgers, ketchup only, no mustard, no pickle, no onion, ketchup only, with a Coke, and a napkin, and a straw" For the rest of us we had decided on Ray's Pizza for anti-pasta salad and a cheese Calzone.  What brought on the next installment of frustration is a mystery. We, MoKo, Baby, my wife, and me, were casually talking about the temple when Ethan suddenly blurted out at me, "Up yours, Jack@$$!" My wife cut in and the following exchange took place.
    Fix it!
Up yours, butt face.
    Fix it!
Up yours, stupid.
    Fix it!
Up yours, silly dad.
Eventually, we got him to fix even the "up yours," and it seemed like we were once again back to some normalcy.  Rather than get our salad and Calzone to go, we decided to eat at the restaurant. This decision could be equalled to Custer's decision to make a stand at Little Big Horn. With the ink still wet on our ticket as the waitress hung it through the pickup window of the kitchen, it started again.
I don't want to eat my cheeseburger at (@#^ Ray's Pizza!
     Fix it!
I don't want to eat my cheeseburger at _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Ray's Pizza.
     We're done. Check please!... 
Arriving at home, the official physical meltdown started, with deep pressure hugs - masked as wrestling on the carpet - taking place until he burned his frustrations out of his body. Moments later, sobbing, he cuddled up on the bed, and all 5'10" of him drifted off to sleep in his mother's arms.

But just as ugly as one day, or several days in succession might be, the next day might be as glorious as can be. And this is because he truly is the sweetest boy.  I've said it before, he is like having your own personal Buddy the Elf. Sure he struggles expressing himself - well at least in a mixed-company-public-sort-of-way - but he is absolutely INNOCENT.

See for yourself...

Audacious socks and conservative PJs...
I just washed my hair and I can't do a thing with it...
Maybe I'll take a nap then.
Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?.... 
In honor of Robin Williams he wants to be
Peter Pan for Halloween - Thanks Grandma K
Whatever our end results, our outcomes - Ethan's outcomes - during our misadventures in a special-needs-home, I know for certain that the net results ALWAYS have an affect on people, especially us, for the good. This is a truth regardless of how ugly or sweet the outcomes might be. Life, our life, Ethan's life, just like the song says...

..It's like a symphony just keep listenin'
And pretty soon you'll start to figure out your part
Everyone plays a piece and there are melodies
In each one of us, oh, it's glorious

Popular Posts