Once in a while, my quiet boy with autism disappears for a little while and a chatterbox takes his place. It is usually when he is very excited about something. When we went to pick out our Xmas tree this past December, Tate talked more than I had ever heard before and it lasted for hours. We have repeatedly noticed when Tate runs a fever he turns into a motor mouth too. Tate was very eager because we were going to see “Pirates, Band of Misfits” at the theater. He told anyone who would listen about his plans to see the movie after school. He told most people more than once I think.
|Tate, third grade|
On the way to school this morning Tate pointed down the road, in the opposite way we were turning, and said, “So, what is down that road, the zoo and the camera store?” Of all the things he could ask me about he picked “the zoo and the camera store.” It cracked me up. I told him that we could get to either a zoo or a store to buy a camera, by going in the direction he pointed. Questions beginning with where, what, why, when, or how, are a big deal around here. Most toddlers ask “why” dozens of times a day, and wear their parents out with questions. Tate did not. Now, he does occasionally ask questions. When he does, it takes me by surprise because I seldom hear him do it. The autism is never more “real” to me than when Tate does the things that he should have been doing all along. It is like: I don’t know what I am missing until I have it and then lose it again. When Tate becomes a chatterbox for a few hours, or even a few minutes, it just reinforces for me, all the things he (and I) missed out on.
Tate was pretty talkative this morning at school. They had a “fun day” today and there were stations with activities outside and in. Tate initiated a conversation with one of the parent-volunteers, which is a pretty big step. He asked her, “So, did you go to college?” She said she had and then Tate asked her another question about college. It was not the most appropriate thing he could have started a conversation with. It was pretty random, but I’ll take it. We have been working hard and practicing conversation skills with lots of coaching, and it is paying off. Tate’s team at school has been coaching him and they practice with staff members every day. They have spent time talking with Tate about appropriate questions to ask and “weird” questions people would not ask each other. This all has to be taught because Tate will not pick it up from his environment like his peers have.
We were standing in line to buy our movie tickets this afternoon when twin boys, a little younger than Tate, came in with a young lady, probably a sitter. The boys both had autism and caused quite a ruckus while waiting in line. It was very tough for the adult to buy tickets and keep the boys both with her. They were everywhere at once, touching anything they could reach. I did not pity the boys or the caregiver but I did admire the caregiver for bringing the boys to the theater. Watching those boys reinforced for me how blessed I am. Tate has so many skills that many with autism do not. I have three boys and three girls that do NOT have autism. I can only imagine how much more challenging things would be for me if two of my children had autism. The Center for Disease Control released a new statistic last month: 1 in 88 children have autism now and it is 1 in 54 for boys. If autism does not directly affect you now, it is probably just a matter of time. It is important to educate yourself about autism, more than ever before.
Another post you might like to read: A Sack of Potatoes
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