Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Essay: The Difficult Transition from Fun Activities

Image: My guy was a little tentative in the cold water of Lake Michigan, but he did enjoy the morning on the beach in Traverse City, Michigan. He also got to swim in a hotel pool, hike a little bit, and climb a sand dune during our two-day vacation.

Oh, the fun my ten-year-old son has been having. Last week we went on vacation to Traverse City, a popular destination in Northwestern Michigan. This week he is at a camp for people with special needs. I will pick him up on Friday and while I'll be glad to have him back, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the nearly two-hour-drive home.

My husband had the relatively easier job (aside from having to wait until I faxed him prescriptions) of delivering him to camp. The elder Lorenzen guy said that our son had a grin almost all the way there. It's his fourth or fifth year at the Fowler Center, so he knew exactly what to expect. It's a week of being outside and doing activities he loves such as swimming.

So yeah. The transition from home to camp was easy enough for him to handle. The transition from camp to home? I'm holding my breath and hoping for the best. Am a little worried because he had a meltdown on his way home from Traverse City last week. He wanted to do something that was impossible on the way home, and would not let the idea go. He did calm down by the time we arrived home, but we were all on edge by the time he did. Meltdowns in the close quarters of a vehicle can be difficult.

The type of meltdown he usually has in rooted in control issues. When he can't control something such as leaving camp, he tries to control something else such as what kind of rest break we take on the way home. It can be a miserable situation for all parties. Sigh.

My husband and I have a few ideas of how to prevent an impending meltdown, though I'm not sure they will work. One idea is for me to take a recording from his dad reminding our son to "not give mom a hard time." Another is a social story or a simple verbal reminder for him to be good. Rewards are probably not a good thing to offer, because, in this case, he'll try to control what reward he'll be given.

So, I feel guilty about it, but have to admit I'm not looking forward to Friday and being alone in a van with a potentially unhappy son. On the bright side, I'm grateful he can transition to being at camp and that I don't really have to worry about getting a phone call about behavior problems, a type of call that I occasionally receive from his school.

Also, anticipating downfalls such as a meltdown helps a bit. It's better to anticipate one than to field one that comes out of nowhere. However, if you suspect I'm trying to convince myself that I'll manage things just fine on Friday, you are correct. My son and I usually get through those moments even if it's just a matter of "muddling through." It's just not easy....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Essay: The Librarian's Son

Image: Maybe having a dad that is a reference librarian and mom that tends to look and act (sometimes) like one means that a child with ASD will want to avoid libraries. Who knows? (Actually, I was just having just a bit of fun with a stereotype of "Marion the Librarian", but it is possible that I try to hush him up too much whenever we attempt a library visit.)

Author's note: Here is a link for those of you interested in the efforts of librarians to make libraries more accessible for people with autism. I think it's fantastic that an effort is being made to help patrons with ASD and their families. (Thank you for the link, Joyce!)

The Librarian's Son

I should spend some time at the site I mentioned in the note, though I'm not sure it will help us. I'm beginning to think getting my son to be comfortable in a library is impossible. This is ironic because my husband has been a reference librarian at one academic library or another for fifteen years and counting. You'd think a librarian's son would either like or at least love libraries.

Alas, no. My ten year old with ASD gets louder, more anxious, and generally more "silly" in a library than in most places. It's not just one library. We've been in at least three different buildings housing books and the behavior has been not so great at any of them. I'm not so sure what it is. He does have sensory issues (with a loud intercom system and an emergency blinky and beepy system that went off at an unfortunate time during one vistit at the library where his dad works). But that is the only library that is known to emit harsh sounds.

My son was almost five when his dad started work at the current institution, but he's had difficulty with his behavior since I started taking him for library visits when he was three or four years old. It doesn't seem to matter whether it is a university library or a public library with a good children's section. He can behave and will behave in most public places. Just not the library.
I was hoping that we'd sign up for the summer reading program this year, but a dismal visit this summer sort of dashed those thoughts. Oh well. I intend to keep trying to take him as he gets older. He does love to read, and maybe someday he will learn to relax in the building where all the books (and more) are. There is always hope.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Photo: A Peaceful Moment.

Photo: C1 on a carousel hare at Cedar Point Amusement Park. Sometimes my son and I argue in circles. He has starting to use the word "why?" as a counter argument. I much prefer going in circles this way. Am glad we can enjoy fun and relaxing moments such as this one.