We had years and years where every day was a serious struggle with Caleb. From sensory to communication problems, the day in and day out of raising this young man with autism was exhausting.
Then something happened. It wasn't sudden, it was very gradual. Caleb started to improve at things like communicating, and life got a little easier. And then, we lost focus.
It was like because things had gotten manageable and the day to day seemed like it was going ok, we settled in. We were coasting along, just in maintenance mode, and getting lazy.
We rode that wave until Caleb's regular E.A. at school was away for a few weeks, and then things fell apart. He was misbehaving for his substitute E.A's and acting like a child who couldn't listen, sit and focus, follow direction, or just be decent. I got called often during this time for his bad behaviour, and I even ended up going to the school on one occasion to get him in trouble myself.
He had been grabbing his iPad or laptop and running off with it and not giving it back if asked by his substitute E.A or teacher. They called me, and told Caleb they would, but that didn't spur him on to give it back. I have spoken with him on the phone before to verbally scold and direct him, but in this situation he wouldn't even come to the phone. He was being a full-on brat! Yes, I know he has autism, but he knows right from wrong, he knows to listen (and is capable of doing so), but most of all he knows he can't grab his special school equipment and run off with it and be a bugger.
When I got to the school and walked into the room he was in.....oh boy, his face turned red to white in an instant, and he knew he was in trouble.
I took him to another room and talked with him about being kind, making good choices, and being a young man that makes God and his Mom & Dad proud; a boy who listens to his teachers, works his hardest, and tries his best to make his life and others lives better.
He looked so sad, and started to cry. I told him he needed to apologize to his teacher, and also to his E.A., and that I expected him to do better. Not that I hoped he would, but that I expected it.
The time without his regular E.A., and this situation where I needed to go into the school to reprimand him snapped Adam and I out of our daze. Caleb may be doing "better", but he's not a finished piece yet.
He's getting older, more mature and smarter. These things are good...but they all offer new challenges we need to overcome.
We realized that in his genius he can turn his "handicapped' switch on and off depending on who he's with and how well they know him.
When I went into the school that day and talked with him, his teacher afterward said (something like), "hearing you talk to him that way was eye opening. I could tell he was hearing every word you said and you didn't dumb it down at all". He had been doing just enough to get by, but not enough to shine (as we know he can). Now, most of the 10 year old boys in his class are a little lazy, kind of stinkers, and like to see what crap they can get away with. So, to a degree we know it's "normal", but Caleb has never been "normal", and we don't necessarily want him to be! We are looking for a family standard of behaviour, not a disabled version of it. I don't want any of my children being bad listeners or making poor choices.
We are in a place now with Caleb where we need to look ahead more than ever. In a few years he will be in high school (ahhhhhhh!!!) & getting a job, then after that perhaps a post-secondary education or just continuing to work and become more independent.
Whatever his life looks like in the next few years, we need to know his foundation is solid. That includes (and is not limited to) having the self-control to make good choices, understanding the importance of listening to and following orders/directions from those in charge, being a solid communicator (whether verbal or by trying/writing), and having excellent reading skills.
Our focus for so long was to just get life to run smoothly...(ish). And then when it was, we stopped the work. We forgot that our real goal was not just 'get through the day!!!', it was to raise a beautiful, genuine, caring human being.
So, we're back on track. We're pushing Caleb to do his best and be his best. For him (right now) that means having "blue listening ears" (blue is positive in Caleb-speak), making good choices which means using manners, being patient with his sisters, and not back-talking, and to continue to push him to read and write better.
The day in and day out of life with Caleb still has it's struggles. Things have improved though, but we want more. We want exceptional. We want it from all three of our kids, and it means different things for each of them. No cookie cutter behaviour or goal will work, but rather an individualized version of our standards. And Adam and I need to be focused on this daily. It's about correcting with love, finding teachable moments, and living by example. If our focus for Caleb is on his long-term good, we won't ever rest or become lazy. I want to look back and know that I was always doing all that I could to propel him into the life he was made to live.
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
Read more about me by clicking here!
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