As I sit here on Christmas day trying to pound out another column I find myself stopping to watch Konner play in the floor with his toys. He’s lost in the many Thomas the Tank Engine toys that he has received this holiday and I couldn’t stop him if I wanted to, which of course I don’t. But it makes me think of some things that I rarely do, like the blessings in my life, especially with Konner.
We, as parents of autistic children, often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of running around all year to different therapies, doctors’ appointments, conferences, IEP meetings, and school events, that we get overwhelmed with life as we know it.
We also tend to complain, sometimes to whomever will listen, about the many problems we have. This is why our autism group is such a great place, so that we can vent to each other about issues, and know that we are not alone.
I feel like sometimes there are people that I talk to about issues that might get tired of hearing it. Family, friends, and co-workers are probably saying, “Great, here he goes again.” However, I am appreciative of all of them for being my sounding board.
Truth is the issues can be overwhelming. However, every once in a while we need to stop and be thankful for the things we have in life. Maybe it’s just the Christmas spirit, and maybe it’s all that I’ve had to eat, but today I’ve had a few of those moments.
We had purchased a few books for my nephew for Christmas, and being that we made the order online, and late, they hadn’t made it in before Christmas day. So this morning (Sunday) Jen was printing out a note to give him to let him know that they were on the way. The note was up on the computer screen when Konner pulled himself up to the desk and started reading it. He read it without much hesitation or problem. It was no Shakespeare play, but for a first grader it should have been difficult. As I listened to him rattle off the entire note I had to think about how amazing this kid can be.
I also noticed at my family’s get-together today that there was very little confrontation, and that he hung in there longer that he has in the past. I have written before about having to leave early due to meltdowns and other issues. Not this Christmas. He also played well with everyone else. He shared with his cousins and even his brother…a little. . In fact, I call that improvement.
Even the numerous amounts of trains that he has shows off a great characteristic of autism. Autistic children tend to be able to focus on one thing, and excel at it. For instance, Temple Grandin sees in pictures and can design cattle shoots and other livestock holding cells in her mind. John Elder Robison has the ability to work with electronics and cars so well that he has designed toys for Milton-Bradley, guitars for Ace Freely of Kiss, and owns his own exotic car repair shop. There are also savants who can memorize numbers, dates, and figures beyond the typical brain. While I haven’t been able to see any overly amazing feat like this in Konner (yet) he can tell you every single train he has, and doesn’t have, what their function is on the island of Sodor, and why he needs the others. Now this doesn’t seem very impressive to some, let me assure you he has well over 100 different trains from three different styles of Thomas (wooden, take-and-play, and track master).
My point is that the human brain is amazing, and for all the obstacles he has, there are many things that he doesn’t have to worry about.
This is a time to count your blessings and be thankful for the things we have. I’m thankful for both of my children as well as my entire family this Christmas season, and can’t wait for a new year to see what else is going to happen.