Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Michael probably had to bear more than what he should have. He set the example for my younger sons. If Mike did something that was questionable, he heard about it. Kids with autism learn quickly by example. Usually, the things I wouldn't want repeated would be the phrases that they'd learn without effort.
We set a high standard for Michael. Good grades, good behavior, good everything. He usually did not disappoint us. He was valedictorian at his 8th grade graduation. He aspired to play sports. He got his first job at 16, when he could drive.
He married young, but he was a devoted husband and father. Now, at 30, he is much like his father--a very strong, reliable man. If a problem is presented, he solves them. If someone asks for help, he obliges. Better yet, if Michael perceives an issue, he addresses it.
We didn't parent our younger kids as we did Michael. He observed, "Mom, you never let me get away with that." No, parenting with autistic kids is very different. Our standards changed. For example, the idea of straights As in school went out the window. We didn't care about grades. We cared about mastering the skill, task, or lesson only. No grades. Yes, our standards changed. They become specialized. We focused on success per each child, not a pre-set standard.
Michael's early years were sparked by a young, inquisitive curiosity--much like his adult years are sparked by challenging, demanding responsibilities. He meets them with courage.
Happy 30th, Michael.
Friday, July 4, 2014
I grew up around guns, and I learned at an early age to respect them. My dad taught me what damage can be done. Empty soda cans were my usual target. Different bullets left different holes.
I was about ten when I shoot my first live target. After it fell from the sky, my dad and I searched the grounds until we found it. "It" was a beautiful bird, with deep blue and green feathers. It's head was barely intact. Talk about my euphoria quickly dampened by reality. We took home what we shot. Dinner.
Nowadays, too many times, an accident is reported on the news about a kid shooting a sibling or a friend out of curiosity or play. I don't want my kids to be one of those statistics. I don't want my kids to fear guns either. The only solution is to teach them.
With proper gear and training, my boys shoot. Grandpa takes them to the local shooting range. Their accuracy improves with each visit. Onlookers are usually surprised when they find out that the boys have autism. Some are even quite impressed when looking at the paper targets.
Yes, my boys had to overcome sensory issues and master fine/gross motor skills in order to be able to shoot. Years of occupational and physical therapy. We take nothing for granted. Of course, our boys' safety comes first.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
|Ryan celebrating with Grandma|
I called him, and I asked how it felt, "Good." I could hear him smiling. Rare. Ryan was genuinely happy. I was happy too. It's been a long haul for him to arrive at this point.
Eighteen months ago, Ryan didn't want to drive. He didn't want the responsibility. Ryan was quite content to let us drive him around. Not a lot of ambition. That doesn't sit well, especially when Ryan wants to be independent. I never understood that concept: he wants to be independent, but he doesn't want the responsibility.
Mike and I simply stated that if Ryan wanted to be independent, he needed to pursue skills that will make him independent. Mastering some sort of transportation was a must--be it public or private transportation didn't matter. He needed to be able to get to places on his own, especially if he wanted a job.
So Ryan had taken the drivers ed course at high school. He "drove" the simulators, but just wasn't ready. We didn't push for a few years. However, when he graduated from high school, we pushed a little bit. Thanks to my parents, Ryan earned his drivers permit last summer. And ding--Ryan suddenly liked driving.
Now he can drive without me. Yea. He has a smile on his face. Constantly. He is very happy with this new-found independence. He even agreed that the responsibility is worth it!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Eleven years ago we stole away for ten days. It was the first such trip since the boys were diagnosed with autism. Mike's mom came down to take care of the boys. We had no idea how they would react when they realized we were going to be gone for so long.
At that time, we actually didn't know Ryan and Cameron were autistic. Only Nick had been diagnosed. Ryan and Cameron would be diagnosed within a couple of months. Had we waited to go, I don't think we would have left after hearing the diagnosis of all three.
Thank God for grandmas. It was a much needed break to refocus on us. Mike's mom reassured us that all will be well. Our kids loved her, so we had no doubts.
Well, we did. We bought cell phones--our first cell phones before we left. Leaving our kids for the first time for that duration was scary. We bought cell phones for that "just in case" emergency. No one ever called for an emergency.
We had a wonderful time celebrating our 13 years.
Monday, June 23, 2014
|Sheryl & Mike: 24th Anniversary|
People have been asking me how many years have we been married, and I reply, "Twenty-four." They usually say, "Ahhh. Then next year is the big year. Do you have any plans?"
I am blown away. What is wrong with celebrating the 24th Anniversary? Yes, 25 is big, but we're not there yet. Why not focus on the year we had?
We've had a few major milestones: Ryan graduation from high school. Nick and Mike went to Hawaii. Ryan and Nick earned their driving permits. They also had their first jobs. Among others. Yes, this list is really about the boys, but that is reflective of our marriage: family.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
|Mike & Sheryl 2004|
It's nice to know that we don't need any hyped-up activity to keep us entertained. With young adults with autism, life is exciting enough. They keep us going as we never know what they'll will do, or what bureaucratic mess might be thrown at us.
I smile as I write that because autism is a world of its own. One I could do without, but it is a part of our lives together. Together, we meet it, head-on. But it's only a part of our lives. We keep that perspective. It does not define us. We are much more. We have to be to keep going!