I don't write about my typically developing child very much. When I made this blog, I originally intended it to be about my progress with the art project. Then, here and there I threw in stories about my autistic kid, because, let's face it, he's extremely entertaining. (I also got bored in between pieces and side-tracked by medical problems). So the blog became more about life with autism, and now and then I get an art piece done, I show my work and I get to tell stories about that as well.
But I have a "normal" son as well as an autistic son. And he's amazing. He's also been on my mind a lot.
Tyler is a mini-adult. He's had to grow up fast. I always get comments from others that he "talks like a grown-up." He uses big words and is a very serious child. In many ways, he acts older than his age. Yet, he still likes me to do things for him, like walk him into school in the morning and make him sandwiches. I think it's his way of getting attention.
Derek was diagnosed at the age of 20 months, which means that Tyler was 3. Life turned upside-down for all of us, and Tyler had to deal with very adult issues at a young age. We tried to shelter him, but he knew that things had changed. Suddenly, Derek had people coming to work with him around the clock and was getting extra attention. Mommy was crying a lot. And Tyler? Well, Tyler became jealous and angry. We had to take him to a therapist for a while to help him through his issues. Completely understandable. I know how hard everything was for me. I can't imagine how hard it was for a 3 year old.
The other day, Derek had a bowl of popcorn for supper, because he's...well, Derek. He still only eats about 10 things. My husband, Tyler, and I had chicken and vegetables. A "normal" meal. Tyler said my least favorite words in the world. "It's not fair."
We had a little talk. I asked him, "Is it fair that Derek has had to be in therapy for 3 years? No. Is it fair that Derek can't eat things like pizza and cheeseburgers and candy bars? No. Is it fair that Derek's had to go to doctor appointments right and left the past few months? No."
I went on to explain to Tyler that LIFE IS NOT FAIR. It seems like it should be, but it's not--and the sooner he accepts that, the happier he'll be. I also told him that I didn't want to hear those words anymore, especially in this house. I reminded him of several special treats I've gotten just for him and several things we've done lately, just the two of us. I do everything I can to make sure Tyler knows that he is loved and special. Even if it's just something little.
For instance, about a month ago, I left a note on Tyler's pillow saying "I love you." He put in a special cup he has and reads it when he's feeling down.
I also help him with his spelling--one of the few things he has trouble with in school. I teach him tricks to help him. I drew him a picture to help him learn how to spell the word "does." He was spelling it D O S E. I told him to imagine a snake as an "S" at the end, ready to gobble up the other letters. Then I drew it on a piece of paper for him. He laughed and told me I was weird. I said, "Maybe, but do you think it will help you remember how to spell the word?" :)
Tyler said, "When Derek can talk better and is learning to spell, let's teach him the snake trick."
You bet, buddy.
This little boy, who is not quite 7 years old, has a heart of gold. We were talking about marriage and children the other day, because my brother just had twins. I asked Tyler if he planned to get married someday. He said yes. I asked if there was someone he wanted to marry--the girl next door maybe? Or someone in his class? His response? "Someone like you."
My cup runneth over.