My little man Meatball is teaching me more about boys than I learned with Dr. J. He had a joke when he was two. He has been pretending for a really long time. He makes a million sound effects and plays soldier. This is all new to me. Continue reading
Today we get to hear from another autism sibling. Will talks to us about life with his brother Ben. Continue reading
Poor little Meatball. He’s the second-born child in our family. That naturally means he won’t get as much attention as his older brother did. Add in the autism issues for Dr. J, and again, attention takes a hit.
So, today’s post is devoted to Meatball. Continue reading
When you have a firstborn with a developmental delay, you do not always realize where he is lacking because he’s your first. You have nothing to compare it to. Until you have your second and your second is “normal”.
This has been my experience with my boys. Obviously I talk a lot about autism on this blog because I am hoping to encourage other parents facing challenges with their children. However, we don’t want to forget our other kids! Continue reading
>Yesterday I posted “Happiness is.” If you haven’t read it yet, it was about something that makes my autistic son happy. Today I’d like to share my younger son’s version of “Happiness is.” For anyone new to Many Hats Mommy, Noah is two and a half and neurotypical thus far, which means in layman’s terms–“normal.”
He is a normal two and a half year old. I am often amazed as I watch him develop in ways Josh took years longer to do. Noah is my pretender, my singer, my dancer. He is very enthusiastic. He makes buses and trucks say “Hi, Noah.” back to him in a different voice, and then excitedly says, “He said ‘hi’ to me!”
The other day while Josh was at school, I got to give Noah his own moment of happiness. A bulldozer came to the side parking lot and started tearing up the concrete. Noah saw them while he was playing at the windowsill and started watching. Then a concrete mixing truck came along. Having read Truckery Rhymes, sometimes we call trucks by their names at our house. After watching the trucks and men at work for a while, Noah started saying, “I want to go see Mixer Melvin.”
Some days I say, “Not today, Noah.” This day I chose to give him his time of simple pleasure and said, “OK. Go get your shoes.” I’m very glad I did.
I got Noah dressed in weather-appropriate clothing and found my jacket and shoes. We went out the back door and walked hand-in-hand over to where the men were working. I kept Noah at a safe distance and said, “Why don’t you say ‘hi’.”
“HI!” he yelled. The men turned around.
“Say ‘hi’ to Mixer Melvin. You have to be loud,” I encouraged him.
“HI, MIXER MELVIN!” and we waved at Mixer Melvin and his driver. One of the men asked Noah if he liked big trucks and Noah eagerly nodded. We call them tough trucks because of a library book we read once.
We stood there, Noah in my arms taking everything in. The bulldozer was off to the side unmanned, so we walked over to it and I let him tap on it to see how hard it was, and we exclaimed over the hugeness of the tires. I showed him the driver seat inside the cab. Then we went back to watching the cement ooze down the chute and into the hole, the men smoothing it out with their tools.
Eventually Daddy came home from work for his lunch break, and we got to share the joy with him. He stood there with us for a few minutes, smiling at Noah, enjoying a rare moment of full parental attention for his youngest son.
Happiness is watching a tough truck.
Yesterday started out really rough and by 8:30am I wasn’t sure I’d make it through the day without losing lots of tears and eating lots of junk food. Thankfully through prayers of friends God allowed me to have a better day. I even had the opportunity to witness events as rare as Mt. St. Helens erupting or a man putting his dirty laundry in a hamper instead of on the floor.
The first thing that happened was as we were coming inside from playing with trucks. Noah was asking to be “Super Baby,” which meant he wanted me to tie a blanket around him for a cape. When I was done with the transformation, Josh came up to me with his 4 foot by 5 foot Thomas the Train fuzzy blanket and sheepishly whispered, “I want to be Super Big Boy.”
I almost fell over. That was the first time in his life my son wanted to pretend to be a super hero. Not only did he want to pretend, but he also wanted something to represent a cape on his person! Of course I ruined the moment when I told him he needed a different blanket because this one was too big and would make him fall. I tried to give him two other blankets, and he melted away from me, not wanting it anymore. That’s ok. It was there, and I saw it.
Then last night something else happened. After my 2 1/2 year old stood up on his stage (the couch), my 4 1/2 year old set up chairs in front of it for the audience and announced it was time for the show. Yes, that’s a bit odd in itself for him to pretend something like that, but then the amazing happened.
I was shocked. He made his own block and stick microphone and took his own turns singing on the stage for Noah and me. He imitated the songs Noah has been “learning” from NOTA. His choreography was somewhat stilted, and as I watched I thought of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, but he was happy! Actually happy and having fun. Eventually he turned into a comic with his own stand-up routine of jokes he’s memorized from library books and corny ones he made up that don’t make sense, preschooler style. I sat on a little kid chair, holding back tears of joy and fully enjoying the moment. My son was pretending and performing!
See, he has been able to memorize entire books and shows for a long time and quote them, but whenever you say something like, “That’s great!” he clams up and stops. He does not want public attention. It is rare to get him to sing. He sings in Sunday school or school with the other children when he gets comfortable, but nowhere else. He has even stopped officially memorizing his Bible verse because he doesn’t want to say it to the teacher. I know he knows them. When he was in the 2 year old class he was the only child who knew the verse each week, and I didn’t know we were supposed to be working on it!
Many parents who do not have kids on the autism spectrum or with other developmental delays may not be able to appreciate this post as much, and that’s ok. A part of me is sad to see that my boys are two years apart and yet play on the same developmental level. However, for those of you who have children who are not yet as high-functioning as mine is, I want to encourage you. My oldest has learned from my youngest. He’s been watching and listening, learning how to pretend and play. Your child can, too! If you don’t have another child for your delayed child to learn from, find one that you can have play dates with. (I’ve considered asking a local homeschooling family if their son, significantly older than Josh, could come over once in a while and play with mine.) Whether it’s a relative or a child from the neighborhood or a play group, they can all teach your child and learn valuable lessons themselves. Keep up the hard work! You, too, will get your moments to savor.
>Last night my oldest (spectrum) child went for his first sleepover at Nana’s with his cousin Cate. It was a “big cousin” movie sleepover. That left little man Noah with Mommy and Daddy. We took him for ice cream, as he is not opposed to the cold and he can eat milk and gluten.
I was amazed. He licked the ice cream and then when it got down to the cone, he bit right in, just as he saw Mommy do. Technically I had to teach him how to lick at one point, but I still have to show his 4 1/2 year old brother how to lick if I can ever get him to consider trying a popsicle. It was one of those moments when I was reminded, yes, Josh is really on the spectrum. You see, sometimes I think maybe he’s not, because he’s so high-functioning. Maybe I was being overly motherly. Then I see things Noah does and that Josh never did or is doing now two years after his peers because he learns from Noah.
I also had joy for Noah. He got to have alone time with his parents and got to enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures, an ice cream cone. Then he got to watch a movie and eat popcorn, and sleep in big brother’s bed. What a night! Today I took him on errands with me and took him to a park, watching him interact with other children saying, “Watch me!” I enjoy giving him these moments.