Susan's Blog

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You Have to Ask

The worst thing so far has been not knowing what he understands about this move.
And, also, knowing I could have prepared him better. I did not because I didn’t want to make him anxious. Unsaid: I didn’t want to have another six months of his aggressive behavior like last year when he first found out he was going to camp. You tell him early and he obsesses for months. Well, maybe I should have let him obsess so that he could now deal better.

The best thing so far is the freedom I have. There, I said it.
And, also, there is a glimmer of a new connection we have, I call it the Nagging Connection. By this I mean where I nag him to get help. He told me the other day he was watching TV. His voice broke. He was sad. I knew this meant he was just watching what was on, what others there were watching. I told him, “Nat! You can watch one of the movies you brought. But you have to tell someone.”
Immediately he told me, bless his literal heart: “Want to watch a movie.”
“No, Nat, you have to tell one of the teachers there.”
Very softly, turning in the direction of the others: “Want to watch a movie.”
“No! Nat, say it loudly. Go tell someone. Now!”

The staff in charge got on the phone and I told her that Nat did not seem happy with the television program and that he needs to be asked what he wants to do, preferably given a choice of a few things. Otherwise he’ll just default to whatever is easiest, whatever is in the room.

“Okay, thanks,” she said. “I’ll let everyone know that’s what they should do with him.”

I called back, and I heard from the staff that he was watching Mary Poppins. And I realized I felt a little bit the way I do when I bug Max to go and tell a teacher he needs a way to get Extra Credit, to improve his grade. “Max, you can ask. You can always ask.”
“Yeah, but — “
“But what?”
“I don’t know.”
“Max, you can always at least try.”
He didn’t ask. He didn’t get an A.
At least Nat asks!

I am going to see him today, right after he has art. And, he is coming home Saturday afternoon so that he can go to social group on Sunday. That’s what he talks about on the phone. That, and what he is doing at the House. He seems more able to articulate what he is doing and what he wants to do. Maybe, in part, because I bugged him. Maybe because I bugged the staff. Maybe not. Whatever, that is a positive change. Already.


It’s going to be a process. He definately sounds like he is complying to the change without any anger…just a little sadness. By the way, we women know that men NEVER like to ask questions that would help make their lives easier. We always have to make that suggestion to them. Sometimes they take it, and sometimes they don’t. It has nothing to do with autism.

— added by Candy on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 8:57 am

Interesting. I used to do a lot of preparation for big moves and then found the anxiety sky rocketed. I sort of hoped that they might grow out of it.

Thanks for always helping keep us, if not ahead of the curve, at least in the sidelines.

— added by Maddy on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 3:30 pm

ok, this might be really pushy, but since that’s never stopped me before ..

please, please, please do something for me .. for nat .. for YOU ..

stop beating yourself up over how you chose to prepare him for the move. i get it, oh heavens do i get it, but i’m watching you hurt over it and i’m feeling every bit of it for you,

BUT ..

for all you know, you did EXACTLY what nat needed you to do. he may very well have become a bundle of anxiety had you started talking about the move earlier. perhaps it would have made the transition that much harder bcause he would have been a mess going in.

one of my daughter’s OTs recently gave me a social story about environmental noises. i read through it and it just didn’t sit well. i thought, ‘reading this to her is going to make her more anxious. this is NOT going to help, it’s going to make her anxiety worse.’

but i didn’t listen to my gut like you did. instead i thought, ‘she’s the expert’. so i quieted my inner voice and i read the story. my baby walked around with her hands clamped to her ears for the rest of the day. it was heartbreaking.

we know our children. you, susan, know nat. you have adored him enough to be a true student of him. you know what he needs. please trust that you did the right thing.

he will settle in. they will get to know him as he gets to know the new routine.

you will all survive. but please, show yourself some love too 🙂

and if that was too pushy, i’ll say i’m sorry, but i won’t really mean it.

— added by jesswilson on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Don’t know what works for you, but for me if I spring something on him too early he will stress and worry about it until the event happens, when everything usually turns out fine. I usually tell him three or four days before something will happen that is out of his usual routine because I can’t stand for him to constantly ask me about if over and over. But then again, moving out and living in another place is another issue entirely. It’s hard as heck to really know the appropriate way to handle that.

— added by Sharon L. on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Thanks all. Jess and Sharon – you have both hit the nail right when it needed a pounding. Thank you. You’ll never know just how timely your comments today are.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 4:44 pm

You had me at There I said it. Here’s a big freedom hug from me. -Tina G. P.S. no baby, yet..24 days!

— added by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 5:42 pm