I started feeding him at his table instead of his highchair a week prior to implementing the change in his therapy. All of his therapists were extremely enthusiastic about the idea….but doubtful he could remain seated for sessions that sometimes lasted up to two hours. Did he ever show them…and me. Not only did he remain seated or quickly sit back down if prompted, he has rocked his therapy sessions. Everyone has been amazed with him. I set out not thinking about it in terms of Autism limitations. It was a naïve plan. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from him. How many two-year-olds do you know that can sit in a chair that long? I surely didn’t know any, my two older “normal” children included. He has proved to be quite the little therapy rockstar and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
When Christian transitioned from the baby tub to the shower and big bath, he hated water. He screamed and it was a quick in and out experience. He also had a morbid fear of the ocean. We couldn’t even hold him and let the waves wash over our feet. It terrified him and it broke my heart. This past summer, and many showers later, I was shocked to watch this same child nearly drown himself trying to go further and further out into the water during our last beach trip. He was in love with playing in the ocean. He had not an ounce of fear or hesitation in him. A mixed blessing, but I will gladly chase my little beach lover around to see the joy he had on his face. What a difference one year made. I was in tears several times that day. I reclaimed a part of my child from his diagnosis.
From infancy, my son has always cried when a certain friend of mine was around. Heaven forbid she should try to hold him. She never cut him any slack though. She eventually began bribing him with food and that had fairly decent success. She taught him to high-five and that became their thing. Tonight, he let her hug him. Chalk up one more up for Team Spidermonkey.
My point in all of this? Don’t limit your child based on what they have or haven’t done in the past, what is or isn’t “typical” of their diagnosis or what other’s opinions of their abilities may be. They may melt down a thousand times over a hug from a friend only to be on a high-five basis a year later or they may shock you with something unexpected that they can do when no one else thought it was possible. When Christian was first diagnosed, I felt the need to arm myself with information. I am not saying that is a bad thing, but it caused me to get caught up in how to raise a child with Autism. Really, my first focus should be in raising an amazing child. I had to remind myself that he is not his diagnosis, he is Christian, our Amazing Spidermonkey. Just remember, you are also raising a superhero. Anything is possible.