Friday, August 8, 2014 I appreciate you.

I just read this story on the Autism Speaks website, and it reminds me a lot of Cal.  He didn't speak until he was 3 1/2, and then he used only echolalia.  I remember being so thankful that he was talking, but that is how I also knew things were different for him.  Although he was verbal, he did not comprehend much of language....written, spoken or otherwise.  This is still a struggle for him.  On the flip side, he "gets" some things like humor that we were told he would not ever relate to.  My boy, like many with autism, repeats the same things over and over and over....literally hundreds of times in a day.  He will get fixated on something (right now it's our upcoming vacation) and ask the same questions hundreds of times....."What is on August 16th?  Why is Galveston our vacation?  Why is Galveston a beach?  Why is Galveston so far away?"  I think it's his way of reassuring himself that we are in fact going on a vacation on August 16th to Galveston the beach and are not planning to spring a change of plans on him.  He is not a fan of uncertainty.  He thrives on routine and schedule.  Last year Bryna played on a basketball team with a sweet little girl who also had a brother with autism.  Her brother, and Cal, had a lot in common and a lot not in common.  Her brother would eat anything....literally anything.  Cal has a very restricted diet (by his own choosing), which is getting better with lots of therapy; but still very restricted.  Her brother couldn't stand the sound of the buzzer at the basketball games, and his mom would oftentimes take him out of the gym when it was going to go off.  Cal cannot stand the sound of the buzzer either, and when he was younger; he wouldn't have been able to stay in the gym without screaming in frustration when it went off.  Now he watches the clock methodically and covers his ears at just the right time...he's coping...yea Cal!  Her brother was completely non-verbal.  Cal has many words and uses them often....sometimes I have to give him the hand which means....quiet for a moment please.  Of course I have to do this to my typical 10 year old and 13 year old too.  Cal asks questions all day long....I mean literally ALL DAY LONG!  After I have answered his question completely, I will usually respond with "Asked/Answered".   He knows this means you've already asked me that question, and  I've already answered that question; and he will walk away.  Sometimes I simply don't reply, and again he will walk away.  Neither of these stop him from asking, they just prolong the time in between the questions.  Last year Cal attempted to play basketball for special olympics.  While at a practice, Neil recognized the brother and mother (mentioned above) from Bryna's basketball team.  And she recognized them too.  They began to talk and share things about their boys....both on the spectrum.   While talking to her, he was explaining how Cal needs to constantly be reassured, so he asks you the same questions over and over and over all day long.  He was telling her that Cal still uses a lot of echolalia from TV shows or situations that he is reliving, and that it doesn't usually make sense to anyone who is not aware.  He explained how it can sometimes be annoying to others...and from time to time annoying to even us.   She listened and then she quietly said, "What I wouldn't give to hear echolalia".   It was a sweet reminder that we need to be grateful always for every milestone in his life, and we are....believe me we are.  Like with all of our children, sometimes we need a reminder to be grateful for what they can do and not focus on what they cannot.  Having Cal has taught us so much about life, mainly about living it to the fullest and appreciating every little thing, especially things that can easily be taken for granted.  Simple things bring him happiness, and that helps all of us to remember that joy can be found in the ordinary.  There are many things that Cal doesn't do that I long for, but there are many things that he does do that I would have never dreamed he would. I am thankful.

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