Susan's Blog

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Can-Do Nat-itude

Lately I have had to consider Nat’s areas of skill, because I’ve been having so many conversations about what sort of living arrangements would work best for him. Clearly he doesn’t need 24-7 supervision. Nor can he live entirely by himself and be responsible for everything in his life. Nat is somewhere in between. I see him as being able and willing to have roommates; to prepare his own food for the most part; to eventually take his meds on his own; to keep himself and his place clean (for a guy, that is); and to spend his day doing part-time work, and part-time leisure, activity, fun (with others and alone).

This has been an interesting exercise for me. Instead of feeling depressed (other than how to manage The System), I feel energized and happy. I feel doors opening for Nat — provided I can find the correct buildings for him. People are always so enthusiastic about his skills, his achievements, and of course, his personality. It makes me feel like there will be good things for him to do and good people to live with; I just have to stay on top of each step. I have to keep networking, keep lists of what I did and still have to do. I have to remain strong, and not get tired. But I’ve been his mom for 19 years so I know how to do that!

The trick is not to do so much for him when he’s here! That way I can see what he really can do, the way they do it in The House. I am such a (S)mother.

I have really been finding that it is a good idea to look at your kid in terms of what he can do. Then you can see just how far he has come. After I made this list about Nat’s morning, I felt so good, just seeing it in black and white, his level of independence:

Got completely dressed and came downstairs
Walked around the kitchen
Stood by the fridge until I prompted him to get breakfast
Made breakfast completely independently: toasted bagel and butter (I cut the bagel; usually they are pre-cut); smiled a lot
Cleaned up plate when finished
Prompted to wait for meds
Prompted to go brush teeth
Looked at camp pictures with me and answered questions about who, what, and where. Smiled a lot.
Ran a mile around the Reservoir with me, passing by a dog without any incident
Went walking and on the T with Ned, downtown Boston, to apply for Section 8 Housing Voucher
Walked around kitchen indicating lunchtime; took out the tuna when I said, “What do you want for lunch, Nat?”
Got the mayo when I said, “What do you need for tuna?”
Opened the can of tuna.
I drained it — shouldn’t have; he could definitely do that.
He added the mayo
Cleaned up when finished
Went to the market with me to buy ingredients for choc ice cream w choc chip cookie dough in it
Nat went and found the eggs and brought them to me in the market
Back home, Nat separated eggs, (yokes from whites) with some hand support
Now waiting patiently for ice cream custard to cool (takes one hour, then you have to churn it for half an hour, add the cookie dough bits, then chill the junk for three more hours).

What have I learned? It is SO easy to just do things for him, but if I force myself to hang back, he can do just about anything. I guess we are training each other for his adulthood.


"Looked at camp pictures with me and answered questions about who, what, and where."


— added by Someone Said on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm

You got it, Someone.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Hi first time reader.

My daughter has autism and is much the same as you describe your son.

I am also at that stage where I have to learn to hang back and let go, not just do it for her because it's easier or quicker.

— added by The Paw Relations on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 4:17 pm

"Training each other…". Well put Susan.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, August 29, 2009 at 10:09 am

This made me smile. Awesome.

— added by KAL on Saturday, August 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm