I had a wonderful time on the weekend

I have tonnes of things I want to blog about and yet seemingly no time to blog! I am working today but I really wanted to share some things about the weekend so I’m drafting this over my lunch break. I apologize if this post is therefore a little rough and ready. 🙂

The weather was good, my friend Jim was visiting us and everyone was in a great mood so I decided we would go out. This had the potential to immediately make everyone miserable but hey – nothing ventured, nothing gained! I don’t drive so the boys are used to walking everywhere. They wear backpacks to which I attach, for want of a better word, a leash. This has resulted in some adverse attention from strangers in the past but I don’t care. I want the boys to be safe and there’s two of them and only one of me. Even if I could drive, I wouldn’t want to always be bundling them in the car; I want to take them out and walk around for several reasons including:

– Our occupational therapist has said that proprioceptive activities (weight-bearing, “heavy” work) are great in terms of helping the boys self-regulate. Both boys but especially Oliver love to walk along walls and jump off them which also helps with their gross motor development. Owen is low-toned so being active is extremely important for him.

– Walking is great exercise for all of us and I want my children to grow up with the expectation that we primarily travel using our own steam and for longer journeys, we use public transit.

– It’s good to expose Owen to new things that are potentially a little outside his comfort zone (he’s neophobic).

– It results in lots of communication temptations for Oliver because he gets to talk spontaneously about things he wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise. We went past the hospital which gave him the chance to tell us – “That’s a police car and that’s an ambulance” (said with no prompting!)

– I want the boys to feel part of our neighbourhood and to be viewed by others as an intrinsic part of it too. As we walk along and Owen is flapping his hands and Oliver is reeling off his delayed echolalia, I know that means they’re excited to be out and about. The more we’re seen the more we’re likely to be accepted as just an everyday part of the community. As we walk we can stop and pet the dogs we see (Oliver loves dogs) and if people want to ask me questions about the boys, well, it gives me a chance to increase their awareness of what autism is and what it means for my children.

So, we kicked off our excursion with a visit to our favourite local coffee place, Lit on Roncesvalles. I got the boys their usual Canadian Rocky cookies and a glass of water while I had an iced chai latte and Jim had an iced coffee. The boys did really well – usually they get a little impatient once their cookies are finished but they were having a blast with Jim who was playing tickle spiders with them. Lots of eye contact from Owen, and Oliver was using a functional sentence to request more – “Tickle me please Jim!”

As we were leaving Oliver asked if we could go to the playground. I told him yes, but we would be getting some groceries first. He took this news really well – no complaints at all. We stopped off at Sobey’s for a few items which the boys helped me put in the cart. Owen was very hopeful as he picked up a box of cookies but was also extremely understanding when told that we weren’t actually going to be buying them. Both boys waited exceedingly well as we lined up to go through the checkout. I was seriously impressed!

We headed to the playground where we did lots of running, sliding and climbing then went back to the house to put away the groceries. Seeing Owen take off his shoes and neatly put them on the mat reminded me how good he is getting at a number of self-care activities. He puts on his shoes solo and can largely dress himself as well (nothing complex like buttons but still, its progress). Neither of the boys was gung-ho about going out again but I managed to jolly them along as I wanted to go out to eat. We haven’t been out in so long and I wanted to have a little celebration due to some good news I received on Friday.

We went to Easy Restaurant and had a slap-up meal. Owen ate more than his own body weight I think – mostly steak and toast. Oliver had toast, eggs and waffles. As both of the boys are autistic, I sometimes forget what typical children their age are like. It was nice to hear Jim agree with me that the boys were really being wonderfully well behaved. They both handled disappointment extremely well – while we waited for the food to arrive Owen had his iPad but one of his favourite apps needs an internet connection so I had to tell him it was not available. He also handled being told that he couldn’t have any more toast without any problems at all. Oliver wasn’t happy about being told he had to eat some of his eggs before he could have a waffle  – he complained but there was no tantrum. My boys really did me proud.

Oliver is a VERY active little boy. For example, a crucial element in ensuring my sanity is an indoor trampoline – he is currently on his third one having worn out the first two. Oliver loves to run; everywhere. We live at the end of a quiet, dead-end street so when we have been out I will let him run from the bottom of the street to the back door of the house. When I let the boys know that we’re heading home he will usually start asking if he can run yet. A typical exchange goes as follows:

Oliver: “Run?”

Me: “First, our street, then you can run”

Oliver: “Run?”

Me: “Running is not available right now”

Oliver: “Run?”

Me: “First, bottom of our street…”

Oliver: “Then run?”

Me: “That’s right sweetie, then you can run”

Oliver: “Run?”

Me: “You have to wait”

Oliver: “Nice waiting!! Run?”

Repeat; many, many, many times…! Sometimes he gets stressed out about having to wait to run but he was great this weekend. He even accepted me redirecting his endless requesting with a song. Owen was happy as a clam the entire time, holding Jim’s hand and babbling away – no flopping or complaining. At one point he stopped to give Jim a hug which is his way of trying to get someone to pick him up. I told him that he could be picked up but that he wasn’t going to be carried anywhere – he had to walk home. When he was picked up he smiled his beautiful smile. I was a little anxious that he would be upset at being put back down again but he literally took it in stride and carried on walking.

I’m sure that going for a coffee, buying groceries and even eating out would be viewed by many people as mundane activities and nothing to get especially excited about. But for Oliver and Owen even one of those activites can be a lot to ask of them and yet they handled all of them so well. I got to feel proud of my beautiful children and share them with others which is such a wonderful feeling. I also had an enjoyable, relaxing time. I laughed with them, held their hands, played with them, had the opportunity of telling them how great they were doing and how smart they are. The strategies I used in helping them with their usual anxieties worked.

It all felt so good.


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10 Comments on “I had a wonderful time on the weekend”

  1. danidawn August 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Sounds like an awesome weekend 🙂 So glad the boys were so well behaved.

    • OMum22 August 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

      It really was! And I guess PA had a great time on the horses too 🙂

  2. Gingerheaddad August 29, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    What a lovely story. It’s so important that we do the mundane stuff with our kids and you describe their successes wonderfully.

    • OMum22 August 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

      I’m glad you thought I successfully conveyed my kiddos’ “inchstones”. For us, mundane and boring is GREAT!

  3. Laurie Mitchell (@LaurieMit) August 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Sounds like a wonderful day !! You make a great point about being out in the neighborhood so people can get used to seeing the boys. It’s something I need to do more of. I enjoy your writing.

    • OMum22 August 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Laurie! Nice to see you here. I’m glad you liked the blog. It’s tough making out there sometimes and I often regret it, lol. But times like last weekend make it so worth it.

  4. Karen V September 1, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    What a beautiful description of an incredibly successful day!! You are right- nothing ventured, nothing gained. Progress is an amazing thing and this post will remind you when you need a reminder… Hugs to you and the boys- and kudos to Jim, for being himself. 😉

    • OMum22 September 5, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

      Always great to see you Karen. Hope the trial is proceeding well and that everyone is healthy and happy. Miss you!

  5. Leah Kelley September 5, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    That was a big day!
    Nice when all the planets just seem to align… but really we know that that is the well deserved result of hours of patience and hard work. It would be nice if all of our days were like that I suppose… but then I don’t think we would appreciate them quite the same. From my perspective, one of the gifts we get as parents of our boys with autism is this appreciation of the sweet and simple moments that otherwise might go unnoticed. They might seem like small things to others – but really they are huge!
    Thank you for sharing Karen!

    • OMum22 September 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

      Leah, this is why I love sharing with other parents of kids on the spectrum. You all just get it, that this is the result of a lot of work on the part of parents, therapists and of course, our kids. I agree with you wholeheartedly, the sweet and simple moments are just something I cherish. Thanks!

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