This weekend was all about Nick. 6 years ago on Feb 12, a beautiful baby boy was born. Around this date 4 years ago, that same beautiful boy was diagnosed with autism. It has been a roller-coaster ride ever since. We have had lots of "on the job" training-as no one can prepare you for life with autism. We have learned a lot of things on the fly. We have come a long way as individuals, as well as a family. Nick turned six on Friday. Saturday I took Nick to Toys R Us for a day of spoiling. I originally was not going to take him simply because I wanted everything to be a surprise. Mike insisted that Nick go along.
"Let him pick out what HE likes, not what YOU think he would like." I was kind of miffed at this, as I like to think that I KNOW what Nick likes, but I listened and took Nick along.
I was pleasantly surprised at what Nick gravitated to. He did in fact like everything. Baby toys caught his attention, but I kept moving along hoping to find something that was more age appropriate. A part of Nick still likes the baby toys, and I get torn between what to buy. He is getting older, and I want toys that reflect that. It seems only respectful to him that his surroundings reflect more a kid of his age. He also seems to LIKE it. This year he picked out a cool looking dinosaur that roared and walked when you pushed a button. The age range was from 3-8yrs. We also found a mini-trampoline, and a 3D picture projector. I figured if he thinks in pictures, then by G*d he is going to have the best ones we can get. I bought all the slides that come for that projector. Soon he will be informing us about life on the African Prairie.
We then went to Safeway to pick up a birthday cake. This is where autism can strike out of the blue. We walked up to the entrance, and Nick starts to pull back. He is resistant to going in. I tell him it is ok, and we are going to get his cake. He complies, trusting what I say. But he quickly gets overloaded and a meltdown is ensuing. We have learned throughout the years to become good at detecting what his triggers are. I quickly realize what is setting him off. There are thousands of helium filled balloons all with bright colors,and a whole forest of colored flowers filling the air with their scents. All of this at once is bombarding Nick's senses and he quickly covers his eyes and starts screaming. I wheel him through in record speed and am able to avoid a full-blown meltdown. But that was still not before we drew a few stares from clueless shoppers. I pay no attention to them, as they do not have any comprehension of just how close we had come to a scene much worse-and they would be amazed at this mommas quick response. We buy the cake and here I am having to wheel Nick through this sensory hell again in order to get to the car. This time however, I am prepared. I prep him by saying "Ok Nick, we have to go this way to get to the car. It will just be a minute, and we go to the car. It will be alright." As I say this, he is already covering his eyes again, but I just keep chanting "It's ok..almost done." Then as we exit I announce "See, we are all done now. We go to the car." Nick takes his hands away from his eyes, and all is well. Smiley boy is back again.
Nick also got several garden pinwheels from our former neighbor. She remembered he liked those and had no qualms about spoiling him with tons of them. We also bought a German language CD program. Maybe he can learn his dad's first language-since he seems to have the ability to pick up and repeat multiple languages. It also pairs things with pictures. We celebrated his birthday last night with a simple family party. We all sang "happy birthday" and Nick smiled that darling little smile of his as if to say "I feel so loved right now".
As Temple Grandin would say "Different, Not Less."