Sunday, December 26, 2010

For a mere moment, I forgot

I know this will sound like I am a bit of a nutcase, but I'll say it anyway. Sometimes I forget that Ignatius has Asperger's. Here's today's story.

We were at church, right around the Gloria, when I realized there were absolutely no altar servers. So, I turn to my altar-serving son and say, "Go put on a cassock. They need at least one server." He looks at me with sheer panic on his face. You see, with Asperger's comes a challenge, dare I say an inability, to think on one's feet. When he serves... when he is there on time and as scheduled... he has very little problem (finally) with the ins and outs of altar serving. However, I was demanding for him to do many things that he was unaccustomed to. After about 5 minutes in the pew, I decided I needed to also climb over our pewmates and check on him to be sure he knew what was expected.

There he was, in the room with the cassocks, with tears filling his eyes. As soon as he saw me, he said, "This is really freaking me out." My response, "I know, that's why I came back. You can do this. You will do this. I'll help you through."

His biggest concern was that people would think he was the scheduled server and he showed up super late. I stressed to him that this was not what people would think at all. He was also concerned about how to unobtrusively get to the front of the church without making a big scene. I showed him that he could walk along the side to get to the altar server pew. Neither of these things were "common sense" to him, but both were enough to paralyze him with fear and anxiety.

So, all during Mass today, my mind kept coming back to social stories needed for altar servers with special needs. I did not hear a word of the homily, as I was too busy wondering if Fr. Jerry would take time to be photographed with an altar server in the different roles needed throughout Mass. A simple laminated card in the pew for those kids for whom multi-step directions are difficult to follow. Perhaps a "what if" story with scenarios that could cause anxiety: "What if I drop the water cruet and the crystal shatters everywhere?" "What if I trip on the altar?" "What if I forget what to do?" And, of course, I was trying to determine when I would pull all of this together.

That little voice again. The same one that e-mailed Fr. Jerry about reaching out to special needs kids in our parish, but did not get a response. The one that creeps up every time something like today happens. What if there are kids out there who COULD serve, but whose parents don't think they can do it because of certain challenges they face? There are such easy things that could be done, and yet are not being done. I do not say this judgmentally. Until about 4 years ago, I didn't know what a social story was, because I didn't have to know. I do not expect others, especially those with neurotypical kids of their own, to know what one is. Yes, you should be able to lean over and say to your son, "Hey, they don't have any servers. Go pinch hit." But, alas, it just isn't that easy for some.

The good news...after Ignatius, another boy showed up to help serve. I would like to think it was because Ignatius stepped up... that my putting him through that made another parent realize that we need to instill an instinct for service in our children. It makes me feel better thinking of it that way, rather than thinking of it as the day I forgot about Asperger's.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

Hoping your Christmas morning was as white and happy as ours! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Taking pause

In the midst of the day-to-day, there are many things that can be overlooked.  A blessing of having a child with special needs is the ability to rejoice in things that others (or myself with my older child) may take for granted.

Suddenly, the magic of reading has entered Max's life.  He has started to recognize sight words.  He is able to determine beginning consonant sounds of words.  He makes requests.  He speaks in sentences.  He is having "emerging" conversations.  The threat of "Santa's watching" works as behavior modification.  He can write capital and lower case letters.  He can count objects.  He imitates tones of voice for requests.  He understands that, because it is cold, he needs to wear a coat.

Let's not forget son #1...who knows in the equation y= mx + b which term refers to the slope and which refers to the y-intercept.  Who has achieved an A in high school algebra as an eighth grader with minimal to no help from his mother or father.  Who completed a science fair project with only minimal adult help. Who gets As and Bs with minimal effort.

This weekend I am most grateful for being able to see what I have been given rather than what I am missing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We have our first snowfall today!  It started in the evening, and as I came home from work, I knew I had to get back outside with the camera.  I know... I am a bit odd.  I love this shot because it shows the snow falling.  This next shot, however, is AWESOME because, in the midst of all the snow, the camera captured just the house.  I wish I could recall the setting I used.  I LOVE MY NIKON D60!