Have you ever been on the road to somewhere and you have NO DOUBT you are going the right way. Just cruising along then WHAM something smacks you upside your head and you realize,
OH CRAP! I am going in the complete opposite direction than I need to be!
So, you get off at the next exit turn around and start heading back, trying to find where you took that wrong turn. Only now you finally wake up and realize you were heading the right way all along you just didn’t give it enough time on that road. Well? Have ya done that? Yeah me too. Like a lot. No I mean A LOT, A LOT!
This is what it is like raising an autistic child.
Watching my son the past few days I see “extinct” behaviors magically appearing again. Some that have been extinct for years! (While I’m here can I say I HATE the term extinct. No autistic behavior is ever extinct…. Dormant…. Definitely! Extinct, NEVER! So from here on out, I am calling them dormant behaviors! Phew, got THAT off my chest!” )
I watch the behaviors and suddenly, I am back on that same road again. Traveling the same stretch of highway I swore I had already driven past…. Twice! Or was it 3 times now? I don’t know, it is all such a blur.
The lining up of cars and pictures in a precise (and very clear to him) order. The W sitting, the irrational flying off the handle at the slightest trigger. The obsession over a preferred toy. All of these had gone dormant, years ago.
This summer I spoke of the seismic shift in my son. And now, it seems to have shifted back again, but why? Can we ever know the why? Especially when nothing seemingly has changed. Or has it.
You see to the neurotypically minded folk, nothing seemingly has changed. Ahhhhh, but something has. My son no longer has an aide.
Steve graduated the program after 2 years and 5 months of intensive ABA therapy. At times as much as 40 hours a week. The seismic shift happened. He was self regulating, he was asking for help from adults when he needed it in social situations. The aggressive behaviors stopped. He was trying new foods regularly. He was articulating his feelings and needs.
As time went on little things started to re-emerge. One day about a month ago the fit was so bad that I had to pull the car over, get out with the keys, and lock him in until he calmed down. That was the day I emailed our old therapist.
She reminded me to go back to the basics. She reminded me that I know what to do. I know how to do what is needed. She confirmed that we, my son’s father and I ARE on the same road again but told us to recognize we are not back to where we started. She reminded me of all the GOOD things that are still happening, things that have “stuck.”
Sitting here tonight I realized… She is right… I did have to turn around, but at least this time I didn’t have to go ALL THE WAY HOME before I figured out where I was, and how to move forward.
Six months. It’s only been 6 months, to us, that was a minute ago, to a child who at nine and a half still has NO concept of time, he’s been “good” long enough now he wants the one:one attention back. He even said, I guess it’s time to call my aide back. When I explained that he can’t get that aide back, she had moved on to a new job supervising now, the fit grew even stronger. Then I heard her voice in my head, “You’ll know you are doing it right, when he try’s to raise his bar of behavior and you see it happening and know WHY it’s happening.”
Now…. There are some bad times. We had a couple of them today. However, I no longer have a bad life where I feel like I am drowning, gasping for air.
There has been a lot of progress for all of us. Yet I know, there will always be more to learn. There is never a dull day in the neighborhood. At least I’m back heading in the right direction, I just need to give it a little more time.