It's been over two months since I last posted. Seems hard to believe to me. Did I take a two-month vacation from autism? No. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Did I spend the last two months enjoying autism? In a way, yes.
Robbie's school year ended a week and a half ago. The lead up towards the end included a few bumpy days but nothing what we experienced last year. It's hard to believe the year's over and just how far we've all come.
But the last day of school was the icing on the cake. That day we learned that Robbie had been awarded a "Junior Self-Manager" award. It is given to children at his school that demonstrate the ability to manage their behavior appropriately during the school day. This isn't something for the special education students. It's for all of them. For Robbie to have achieve this represents a dramatic improvement in behavior management.
Progress is a lot like knowledge. The more you acquire, the more you realize is out there. This is no different for Robbie. The incredible progress had made over the last school year has helped me realize that there are other areas - areas I'd written off - that we should explore. A key goal, one I've been hoping for him to pursue, is to improve his social skills. Because of what he's achieved this year, he will be participating in a small social skills group next year at school. We will also be working with him to establish friendships over the summer to get him interacting with more kids.
One type of goal I hadn't considered is improving his physical activity. While he will resume his occupational therapy over the summer, I don't see that as the same thing. I'd never been able to interest Robbie in any kind of physical activity, whether its sports or simply playing catch. But then Rodney Peete's book, Not My Boy, gave me an idea. Rodney devised a simple plan to engage his son, RJ, to play with him. He didn't ask his son an open ended question like, "Do you want to play catch?" He made a specific statement: "We're going to go outside. I'm going to throw the ball to you ten times and you're going to throw it back to me ten times. Okay?" Voila! He played catch with his son.
When I presented this to Robbie in the exact same manner, I experienced the same results. Thanks to Rodney Peete, I played catch with my son for the first time. It's not easy to keep him interested or getting him to keep doing it. But he's done it and now I know it can be done. Knowing how debilitating PE is for him at school (and that it will only grow worse over time), it's critical he improve his physical skills. The difference now is that I think it's possible.
So yeah, I've been enjoying autism for a while. It hasn't gone away and probably never will. But I'm going relish those few moments we get when things finally go our way.