Leelo at Camp Coastaldweller
Let me tell you how wonderful he is, how funny.
He likes to pretend to fly on a broom, because that's what Kiki the Witch does.
(I hope he doesn't try jumping off of anything higher than our couch.)
He can sit through an entire preschooler pony birthday party doing activities, as long as one of us is with him to keep the verbal prompts coming.
He has adjusted to our use of icons and a visual schedule throughout the house and in the car, though he was initially quite pissed off that I was using them because, while he knows he can "argue" with and disobey me, he can't argue with icons. They are simply The Law.
He has been asking to sleep with me at night. When I say no, he turns to his sister and says, "Sleep with Izzy?" who is more than happy to comply for the few minutes until he gets irritated and kicks her out of bed.
He was so thrilled that I found his old CD of classic kids' songs that he sat in front of the computer for twenty minutes, listening to the songs and clapping out their rhythm.
He has become a Crocs convert. He likes his Crocs so much that he wears them inside the house, willingly. He can put them back on in seconds, without his hands.
He can pick up anything with his feet, while strapped into his carseat. Anything. It's really amusing. Less so when the objects are french fries he has dropped, but his prehensile moves still rule.
He has been doing a really great job of running for the toilet when he needs to go, and holding his business overnight. I am allowing myself to suppose that he might outgrow his night-time pullups within a couple of years.
He occasionally tries to imitate the Dancey Dances on Yo Gabba Gabba.
He maintains his cool in his classroom, even though the majority of his classmates are screamers. I attribute this to his lengthy visual schedule and fantastic teacher/aides.
He asks for lots of kisses and gives lots of hugs. And lately he has decided that snuggling with me on the couch is part of his TV-watching routine. Love it.
Let me tell you how exhausting he is, how worrisome.
His social worker came to visit on Wednesday, to see if we really did need respite hours and if the regional center would pay for camp. I think she was going to give us what we asked for anyhow, but after Leelo ambushed her twice, and hit her, hard, she signed all the papers very quickly. (She was unfazed and has likely seen worse, but I am still mortified.)
He ran up and hit a random lady in the grocery story on Saturday. She, also, seemed unfazed but I almost lost it. If my brother hadn't been there to whisk Leelo out of the store and into the car, I would have crumpled. Even so I was emotionally woozy for the rest of the day.
He seems to be phasing out of squeezing and pinching and scratching. My arms no longer look like I have scabies, track marks, or an abusive boyfriend.
He is still targeting his baby sister any chance he gets, and finds it amusing. She now screams any time he comes into the same room. Which he loves. I think this is the non-conversational autistic brother's version of bullying, of torturing his siblings, but it is not safe. The constant vigilance is very very wearing. We are spending far too much time in the car (with the girls' seats pushed as far forward from Leelo's as possible), as when I max out that is the only way I can watch them all safely.
He now thinks it's funny to climb the bannister and along the outside rails of our stairs/upstairs. He hasn't yet been fast enough to hang over the area where there's a twelve-foot drop. Again, constant vigilance.
He has decided that he likes to sleep *inside* his duvet cover, with his comforter. Since he doesn't quite get buttons, he just ripped off all the buttons and/or ripped open the button holes, for access.
He still can't tolerate a drop of liquid on his clothes. A few days ago, while I was driving him and Mali back from a drive-through dinner as we needed something to do while Iz was at soccer practice and I did not have the energy to risk taking the two littler ones on an excursion, he managed to strip himself completely -- jacket, shirt, pants, and underwear -- while strapped into a five-point harness carseat.
His bus drivers call him "Houdini." I have asked the school aides to make sure that his harness is on as tightly as possible. I don't know how many write-ups a kid can get before they kick him off the bus, but Leelo's already had three.
He seems to enjoy yesterday's tour of Camp Coastaldweller, the camp he'll be going to in November. Except that there's a pool in the middle of the camp. A very visible chainlink-fenced pool. Which Leelo really wanted to swim in, and kept asking about. I didn't see anyone else's kids headbutting their parents throughout the orientation, but the camp staff assured me that they've seen everything, can deal with anything.
He was approved for a 150-minute, two-part evaluation for meds and aggression by the behavioral psychologist at our local medical group. That will happen in mid-November. I wish we never even had to consider this. I am grateful to everyone who has sent me information and stories of their own experiences. I have to believe what a friend who went to the recent Morgan Center conference told me, which is that there were autistic adults there who testified that, until they started taking medication, they couldn't even begin to process the world around them. All they could do was lash out and react against it. Meds showed them the way.
I am glad that Leelo continues to bring so much joy to our family. But there is a lot of terror, anxiety, and exhaustion as well. We can't keep going like this for much longer. At least we have some plans.