Now, you know we've been trying new things with Alex this summer because he's calmed down quiet a bit, he's more interested in "goodbye", we're tired of being locked in the house and back yard 24/7, and we've finally collected all the tools and knowledge we need to help him cope with "goodbye". We went swimming in a frickin pool, for goodness sake! He's rocking story time every week, we've been to 3 successful family gatherings, and he loved the busy park and didn't hurt anyone. Except if you count that he accidentally stepped into a grown man's path about 3 steps ahead of the man on. the. playground. Well, yesterday, we wanted to go see a movie.
First, we took them to lunch at McDonald's. We picked a booth in the back beside the restrooms that was well out of the way. Alex slid into the booth and I sat beside him giving him a clearly defined area that was his. Alex has issues with proprioception so being boxed in gives him a sense of comfort. Also, with what the Teacher in Room 10 said is motor planning issues, having his way blocked on all sides helps him know when to sit in his seat and when to get up and walk. I gave him and the grandbaby each a sippy cup to keep them occupied while we stayed in our seats and waited for my husband to get the food. I held my hand out, waiting for Alex to finish his drink and hand me the cup so I could set it on the table because without a definite place to put his cup, he will throw it. He ignored my hand and set the cup on the table. Maybe all of the work with the heavy glass finally applies to all glasses as long as there is a surface in front of him, I'm not sure but I'm hoping.
As always with Alex, progress in one area comes with regression in another. Alex needs his food to be in bite sized pieces or he takes a bite and throws the rest, not because he's done but because it can't be in his hand. Tiny Grace Notes mentioned that he may not relate to his hands, like they aren't recognized as part of him, which makes sense to me with his proprioceptive troubles, so I tear his cheeseburger into bite sized pieces and put them in front of him and let him feed himself but we've been eating out a lot lately. Bologna and cheese packed lunches or trips to restaurants with people who might be offended by messy eating so I started feeding him again so that 1. he would eat a sandwich and 2. people aren't forced to witness Alex's awesome skills. Here, in a child friendly place, tucked in the back where no one could see, I tore up his cheeseburger so he could feed himself but every time he saw me lift my burger, his eyes locked on, he leaned in and opened his mouth. His teacher will not be pleased. My bad.
Before we left, we had to make a trip to the bathroom. I got him changed and we walked out so I could wash my hands. In the mirror, I saw disaster coming as Alex rocked his way backward step by step. "Don't do that, buddy. Stop. Don't step back." He rocked in place for a second, our eyes locked in the mirror, and the lady beside him activates the hand dryer. I froze, waiting for him to scream, cover his head and run in circles trying to find his way out of the bathroom... Nothing. The time we spent on the hair dryer must have desensitized him to the noise. I breathe a sigh of relief as I wipe my hands on my shorts instead of pushing our luck and walk him back out to the table.
We chose a less popular movie theatre, and bought tickets to Epic. I was worried about the movie because Alex doesn't do new movies. he has his favorites and that's what he watches. If he's not interested in the movie, there will be upset vocal stims begging me to change the channel or take him somewhere else that will be just loud enough to irritate the people around him. He's already vocal stimming and has been since we stepped out of the car in a place that was unfamiliar. I'm hoping that he's not so much upset as nervous and his Apple Jacks, which provide similar sensory input with the feel and sound in the crunch of the cereal as the feel and sounds of the squeaks and grunts, will provide the comfort he's seeking. I'm hoping he can just hold on until we can get to our seats.
On our walk across the parking lot, down the side walk, into the lobby, and on to the room, he did not drop to the floor. He did not try to pull away or bolt. There were no inappropriate behaviors, just the vocal stimming... until we stepped into the room and the door closed behind us enveloping us in darkness. Instant quiet. We took our seats in the very back, right beside the door in case all hell broke loose. I took out his Apple Jacks and offered him a few... nothing. He didn't even notice my hand in front of him because he was wrapped up in what was happening on the screen. We sat there, watching the movie until war broke out and Alex jumped up out of his seat, hopping, clapping, and emitting excited vocals. Of the 9 people in the room with us, not one seemed to notice. I quieted him down easily and he went back to watching the movie quietly, alternating between slapping his sock feet on the floor, quietly bouncing in his seat, standing and rocking, and sitting silently with his thumb in his mouth as the movie demanded until the credits started rolling.
I don't know if it's maturity that comes with age, supports, or that I am finally understanding and meeting his needs but we have come such a long way. It gives me hope for tomorrow, I finally feel like I can do this. We can do this. together.
...or he knows his brother is going to drive me to drink and decided to take pity on his mother. ;)
Either way, looking back over the years, the many, many hours of work we both put in, it was hard but so worth it. From the people I have teaching me, the people who have been there and told me I wasn't alone to the children I call mine, I have been blessed.