So here we are on this windy, wintery afternoon, awaiting to go in for Avila’s annual testing.
I always feel like a horrible parent at these things. That whenever she can’t do a skill or task, I instantly feel guilty because I feel like I should have been working harder, longer, with her on those things.
She has “high-functioning” autism, but really all that means is, she’s “different” and “quirky” enough to be on the Spectrum, to get the services, to make life that much more different and at times, difficult for us; but she’s not severe enough for people to think she’s autistic, or I have autism parents that get mad because “at least she talks,” “at least she can get dressed,” “at least…”
You know, I always knew she was “different.” I had to fight her doctor tooth and nail for a referral to our local mental health facility just for the preliminary screening, just shy of her 2nd birthday. Yet, she was unofficially diagnosed before we even left the mental health center! When the results did come back, she qualified for the most help we could get her from the State.
I researched, and researched, and researched what I could do to help her. I was never afraid of her diagnosis and in my heart of hearts, I always knew. So, instead of resisting and denying, I took action and put my insomnia to good use. I called friends that I had lived with previously, that have a son that is quite severe and what they were doing. I have a cousin who is autistic, and his grandpa and I worked tirelessly one summer to help him. He had changed his diet and so I started combing the internet. I started reading of parents whom had took artifical dyes and preservatives out of their kids’ diets and it was really helping.
By this time it was March of 2014 and I decided to give it a try. What’s the worse that’d happen? No change and I could go back to buying whatever I wanted?
Well, in two weeks I had a totally different kid on my hands. She had finally came out of her “fog” enough that I could start actually getting through to her. And I started working with her every day, all day.
I have never “babied” any of my children, and I feel we have done a good job of trying to be upfront, honest, and bringing everything down to an age appropriate level to include them too. So, we started watching Thomas The Tank Engine because she was getting really into trains. They talked about feelings and that was something Avila just didn’t “get.” So we started talking about the trains’ feelings and our own. And now she is one to tell us her feelings… very, very loudly but she’s at least trying to get her points across.
She started liking superheroes and so we started scripting and acting out The Avengers and the Ironman movies. We dressed up and started trying to slowly expand our pretending and imagination. I had always loved writing and making up stories so I just pushed her into that play. It wasn’t easy. I can script every single Marvel movie there is and some days (and some days still) there is not diverting from the screen play. But sometimes, and these times are my favorite, sometimes she makes up a new storyline for them. Once, after The Battle of New York (as found in the movie, The Avengers), instead of going to get shwarma together, Ironman and Thor went to Pizza Hut and ate pizza and cookies. Another time, Thor took Captain America back to Asgard and had him over for dinner, and Captain America was very kind and happy and thankful Thor invited him to his house.
We work very hard to expand her imagination, and we try very hard to give her nothing but facts because she really loves to learn new information. And she’s an elephant, she doesn’t ever forget. So we try to make sure everything we tell her is completely factual and correct. And if I don’t know, I make sure to tell her that I don’t know, but let’s find out together.
Anyway, back to this wonderful annual testing. I know she needs it. I know it does nothing but help her. I know that it’s good to find out where she is, and what we need to do to help her. I know this. But I still can’t help but feel like I could be doing better for her.