Alex is finally out of school for the summer. He gets three weeks of summer vacation before going back to school. His school is as close to being truly “year round” as it can get. His three week summer break is his longest break of the year. Alex has done wonderfully at his new school. His IEP (Individualized Education Plan) detailed 17 goals to be taught between January of 2009 and January of 2010. He has mastered 11 of them. We will be spending more time on the remaining 6 at home. Did I mention how proud I am of Alex’s achievements this year? Well, words can’t describe.
I think Alex has figured out that he is supposed to have a longer summer vacation. With every request of him at school and home, he has replied with a resolute NO. Then he states, “I am on summer vacation.” Clearly, his teacher and therapists at school have gotten him to complete his work and I can usually get him to do whatever it was I asked. I think he just wants to remind us that he is supposed to be on vacation and thus doing as little as possible work wise and as much as possible fun wise.
Unfortunately, this summer has not been much fun for him. It all started with the arrival of his little sister. Talk about big change. He had two weeks off before the start of the summer school. Then there was a visit from his Grandma and Uncle and on the very day they left, he had his leg surgery. Then it was right back to school. We have had hot days this summer but not hot enough for enough days to warm the pool water. We haven’t even hit up the park district’s neighborhood water park. To make matters even worse, this is our third summer in the Greater Chicago area and we still haven’t taken him to Six Flags Great America. For Alex, this is one sorry summer.
As unfun as his summer is this year, there have been remarkable strides. While he still has morning stiffness in his leg (and likely will for the rest of his life), he is limping less now than he did before the surgery. He is talking more, using new words. He is still better at typing than he is at talking but even his written communication has blossomed. He is using complete sentences and giving us more detail. Not only does he tell us where he wants to go, he tells us exactly what he wants from the destination. He has even started to type out his crying sounds but I am not sure that is a good thing. And just the other day, he told me out of the blue that there are 12 steps to the van. I checked and there are, in fact, 12 steps from the end of the porch to the van. I never knew he counted steps.
It is generally accepted that people with classic Autism (also known as Kanner’s Autism and Infantile Autism) have difficulty with change. Alex has always handled change rather well and in many cases, thrived through even big changes. Alex did have some adjustment issues leading to more meltdowns and some self injurious behavior this spring and summer but he came through it and has even made a few strides.
Moms like me learn to celebrate the smallest gains and appreciate them even more. We know that our kids have to work ten times harder for even the smallest things so it means ten times more to us when our kids get there. Did I tell you how proud I am of Alex? Yes? Well, I will say it again. Words can not describe.
Now I just have to have find a way to make up for a lackluster summer.