Autism & Something "Normal"
Caleb has spent the last few weeks playing with cars. I mean actually playing with them.
In all of Caleb's 10 years of life, he has only ever sat and spun the wheels on toys cars, which is a "normal" thing for a child with autism to do. Actually, spinning wheels on a toy is one of the listed symptoms of autism because it is something a lot of children do due their lack of ability to see the "big picture" and get transfixed by the details.
It started with my Mom giving Caleb a hot wheels track thingy that gets attached to a wall and shoots cars out of it. I know, it sounds awesome/dangerous, right? Then he got a remote controlled car (which, instead of standing still and driving it around him, he would be driving it and chasing it around!). Then, at Thanksgiving we went to a demolition derby, which Caleb enjoyed fully (in years past he's only lasted a short time before having a breakdown), then he went to a friends house where she had Lightening McQueen (from the Disney movie "Cars") as well as some other characters and toy cars, and suddenly, it clicked. Toy cars can be made to do things real cars do!
It's strange that something so small could be noticed, because in a "typical" boys life, playing with cars is one of the first things they do! For us, it's been years of getting cars, trucks, and tractor toys as gifts for our boy, only to have him like or dislike it based on it's wheel spinning abilities.
Then, something else happened. Caleb started playing with a toy Nerf gun he had been given. I showed him how to load and shoot it, and he took it from there.
He played with it outside for a long time, shooting at our enormous apple tree, then the next day he set himself up in our front entry way to shoot after I told him shooting in the house would likely be a bad idea because he would break something. He got a chair, sat down, and said, "Caleb will shoot small!" (translation-"If I shoot sitting here it won't go far and I won't break anything"). It was logical, he had problem solved, and then he said, "Mom will make a video of Caleb!". He insisted I get his iPad out and film him playing with the gun. I'm glad he made me though, as it was a big moment for him. He's had guns in the past that he had no interest in because it would have required him to remember the process (multiple step things are difficult for Caleb, and a lot of children with autism), and it would have required him to play pretend, which he certainly didn't do. Now suddenly, and I am really not sure why, he is playing with it like it's meant to be played with!
These little things, these "normal" things that other kids are doing naturally are such a big success for Caleb.
He has come a long way in the last few years (a very long way!), but when he starts something like playing with cars properly or shooting a toy gun, things that no-one has taught him specifically, things that he has just observed and figured out on his own, those moments really bring me joy. I want to know he can be school/book taught, but I really want to know he can look, observe, and learn from the world around him on his own. As an adult he'll need to do that more and more; he won't necessarily have anyone there with him all the time pointing things out and leading him.
As a Mom of a special needs boy, it gives me a chance to let out a little sigh, knowing that everyday he's stepping up, and growing up.
It's not that I want him to be a "normal" kid, that would change him completely, and that's not what I want at all! I just sometimes want some normal things for him and his life, to bring him a new and more fulfilling type of enjoyment. These two "normal" things can open up doors for him for playing with friends and making friends too.
Spinning wheels on cars may have been fun for him in his own way, but he did it silently, in his own world, shutting the rest of us out. Now, him and the cars are a full-blown, wildly noisy event that sometimes involves building ramps out of toys and books, and seeing how far he can launch a car and make his sisters laugh. That is friendship building, that is problem solving (getting the right height for a ramp to ensure it ends up where he wants it!), and it looks like a lot of fun!
Caleb impresses me with how far he's come, he also reminds me that "normal" is relative.
He's been on a changing scale of "normal" his whole life, refusing to be put into any box. I don't believe he does it purposefully thinking, "I will not be labelled!", but it's his natural drive, his fire and stubbornness (aka-European heritage!!!). It reminds me that we are who God made us deep down, but we can always be trying to do things better, with more excellence. I can't expect Caleb to do this if I'm never doing it myself. I'm being his example, and he is being mine.
Besides, as my husband always says, "normal" is just a setting on a dryer. And nobody wants to be that! :)
12/18/2014 09:36:53 am
Caleb is awesome! (And he has pretty good parents too)
5/14/2015 11:21:19 pm
Just because you're stubborn doesn't mean it's a good attribute... ;)
That's amazing. My 4year old collin has autism and he's the same with wheels. Lost in his own world just spinning the wheels. The other day he was in his room being quiet which doesn't happen so i though oh no whats he's doing in there to my surprise he was actually playing with his hot wheels. Actually playing. I just sat and watched him. It was amazing. He doesn't care about toys. But here's my little guy playing like its just a regular Monday morning. No tantrums no head butting cause he's angry. Just playing.
5/14/2015 11:18:50 pm
That's so great. Those moments feel so amazing to parents of kids with special needs! Thanks for taking the time to share!
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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! : )
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