Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Sunday, July 5, 2009

He's Back!!

Out of the clear blue 4 weeks ago Dude's mom decided that she'd take him for his visitation this year. After many strange things (Deleted for content, swearing, and relevance) I made the journey of a thousand steps (ok, 1950 miles round trip) back to the land of my birth to retrieve my claim to Dudeness. Raising an autistic child is stressful in ways that even we parents don't understand. So a break can be a good thing sometimes. Let's get one thing straight. 4 hours without David can be a relief. 4 days without him could be considered a vacation. 4 weeks was more than kind of strange. I kept looking around like I'd forgotten something. There were no video game noises coming from upstairs in the middle of our movie, no incessant talking from the backseat when we were driving, no scanning the crowds in Wal-Mart to prevent collisions and misunderstandings. All of the little (and not so little) aggravations that come with being a Dude-dad were gone and I missed each and every one of them so much that I started Blogging about them of all things. As Dude would say "Sad!" Of course I can't hope to duplicate the forlorn expression on his face when he does it. Dave has two major expressions of life... 'Fine' or 'Sad' everything falls within these two words. Everything from OK to SUPERFANTASTIC-IALMOSTCAN'TSTANDIT~! is covered by 'fine' and every other thing from 'Not-so-good' to 'Oh my God! The dog is dead and my arm just fell off' is covered by 'Sad'. Getting back to being Dude Central is definitely 'Fine'.

Ok, I'll admit to a bit of pettiness. When we picked David up in Kansas City he immediately tried to push past his mom to get to me. When she stopped him and tried to get a hug and he put his hand on her neck and tried to push her out of his way again. Contrast to when she picked him up and he kind of luke-warmly greeted her and reluctantly left me. I know the reason was that I am his access to his Game Cube, X Box, Gameboy, Mac and Cheese and Wendy's, but still, she doesn't realize this, and it pissed her off. Which made me smile. Partially because of a certain amount of vindictiveness, and partially because it made her so mad she didn't speak for the rest of the exchange. (ah the many blessings of Dude-ness). When you're the parent of an autistic child (at least high-function) one of the best ways to parenting glory is to understand what motivates your child. I can imagine this much more difficult in lower-function autistics, but reward/withdrawal motivation works just as well as with 'typical' children. More so, probably, because their motivations barely or hardly change. Dude's greatest motivational reward is going to GameStop and getting another game.... So, when he gets good notes from school all week we all pile in the Blazer and run over to the GS (do not pass go, do not collect $200) and he picks out a game. And when he hasn't been good, we talk all weekend about how we're not going to GS and getting a game, and why. Believe me, it's worth the $5-$10 for a used game to get him to behave when I'm not around. Just ask his teachers! lol That's Jill on the left, and Ashley on the right. They do a wonderful job with Dude at school, and posting this picture is subtle revenge for all the times Dave came home on Tuesday and started talking about GameStop because Jill had written GameStop in her note. lol I don't know if Ashley's new addition has arrived, or if she'll be back by the beginning of the year, but I hope so. Teachers that you can get along with and can trust AND who do a wonderful job are worth more than gold. These are two of the best.

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