Weighing in on Our Autismland Vacation

Um. Hi! *toothy smile* Remember me? It's been a little while since my last post (*cough*THREE MONTHS*cough*). Sorry to ghost on your inbox for so long!

School started for the kids last week (first year of middle school for the Romanator, while big sister Lucca is a high school freshman, and older bro Quinn takes on his senior year), the hubs is back to work, and I am spending my hours making initial edit suggestions to our over 100 hours of footage. This summer was nothing if not well documented.

And although there's already a chill in the air up here in the Northeast, my head is stuck some time back in July while I try to figure out what just happened here. The big question being if Roman evolved over 15,000 miles trapped traipsing all over creation with us, doing everything from making pottery to walking a tight rope to washing an elephant.

And my answer would be that he is ALWAYS learning and changing. But in the manner of grass growing, it's usually not very dramatic.

Squishy things are improving - meaningful eye contact, better language, more turn-taking in conversations (especially regarding Santa's upcoming visit). Whaaaaat? Anticipating and thinking about the future? This is new.

At the dentist's today, pinned to the chair by the hygienist, he caught eyes with me and reached out to hold my hand. For comfort's sake, Batman - this is a first.

*Someone* (name withheld to protect the guilty) slammed the car door yesterday while Roman and I were inside, prompting him to quip "that was rude!" Yes. Yes, it was!

But to be sure, Roman's biggest challenge - his Achilles heel dipped in Kryptonite - is coping with the fear and anxiety caused by change and transitions. Everything from same bus on a different day to the right thing to eat for snack to driving the wrong way home. And this summer? Was nothing BUT transitions. One after the other, every day, relentless, no routines. Period.

And in the manner of homeopathy, we hoped that exposing Roman to a little "toxic change" every day would make him stronger, sturdier, and a little less likely to yell "penis!" in the grocery store. Although that can occasionally be useful in a crowded aisle...

Let's face it though: my memory is shot. The only reason I have "childhood memories" at all is because photographic evidence outlives neurons. So trusting my grey matter is dicey. But looking back on the footage, I see that he has changed this summer. By the time we reached Portland Oregon, Roman was actually enjoying himself.

He whooped when his arrow hit the squirrel target (sideways, with the shaft, but still!), he fist-pumped and yelled "yes!" when his racquet connected with the tennis ball, and he just plain laughed through a lot of his hard rock drumming lesson. The proof is digital.

Is it still hard to get Roman on the school bus? Absolutely. Does he still use scripted language and stim and perseverate? Yep. But all in all, our evil "toxic exposure" plan is working. Because perhaps the biggest change I've seen in Roman this summer is in his mindset - a simple intention to let go and have fun. Bullseye!

Kelley

PS This brings to mind an awesome quote by Bob Bitchin (<--that's his name. Really.) "The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude." Amen, Bob!

PPS Romi is here with the ever patient Brandon Tenner, youth coach at Sylvan Archers in Sherwood, Oregon.


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