I don't need an alarm clock in the morning. My alarm clock is a 4 year old boy with big brown eyes saying, "Gake up!" If I try to roll over or close my eyes again, my son gets in my face and says just a little bit louder, "GAKE UP!!!" Once in a while he'll giggle and say "Hi!" or just "Mommy!" It's hard to be upset, because just a few years ago, Derek had no words at all. We worked with him in therapy just to get him to make a sound--ANY sound.
For those of you knew to this blog, this is my son "Dare-kick." He can't pronounce his own name. We've been trying to work with him on answering questions like "What's your name?" Dare-kick "Where do you live?" Sackle (Axtell) "What's your brother's name?" Tire (Tyler) Obviously, he still needs some speech therapy.
Let me tell you about "Dare-kick." He is an extremely picky eater. He eats dry cereal (Cheerios and Chex), pretzels, Club crackers, popcorn, apples, pears, Oreos, ice cream, chocolate chip granola bars, pizza flavored Gold Fish crackers, donuts (kind of--the outside only), soy milk, juice, and gatorade. THAT IS IT. I've been asked why I haven't put him on the GFCF diet. Honestly? Because I'm scared he'd starve to death. We've tried bribing him to get him to eat new foods--it back-fired. He gave up eating the foods we were rewarding him with. Now he won't touch Cheetos.
"Dare-kick" is in ABA (Applied Behavioral Therapy) with a team of 6 therapists, 7 days a week, between 30-36 hours a week. His therapists are my family. They are in and out of my house all hours of the day. They have taught Derek a lot over the past two years. His programs change all the time. He is currently learning how to appropriately play with his brother, the alphabet, how to color, how to request things, and as I said above--how to answer questions. I credit these girls with my son learning to speak. They are the most patient and loving people I've ever met. During the school year Derek rides on a bus to a special-ed preschool about 20 minutes away. It's a wonderful school, and luckily Derek LOVES it.
Derek WAS attending OT and PT, but we recently had to quit because we could no longer afford it. Our insurance covers absolutely NOTHING that has to do with autism. We pay for ABA out of pocket, with help from Derek's grandparents.
Derek has several stims. He flaps his hands and jumps up and down when he's excited. He twirls hair (mine, his, his therapists...) when he is tired or distressed. He runs in circles. He spins. And he can't just have one of something. He has to have two matching things--it doesn't matter what it is: two cars, two trucks, two Batman toys, two dinosaurs...
But that's just the boring stuff. Derek, more than anything else, is a CHILD. He likes to play. He likes to sing (Wheels on the Bus and Humpty Dumpty are the current ones--he's like a broken record). He likes to get dirty and go swimming and ride a scooter. He likes to be outside in the sunshine and throw stones in the lake. He laughs often and easily. He may not speak well, or as often as other children, but he is full of love. Unlike most autistic kids, Derek doesn't mind being touched by people he knows. He likes hugs and being tickled. Just yesterday, Derek came home from summer school, hugged me, and said (unprompted), "Wuv oo too." It was one of those moments that made my jaw drop. Tears poured down my cheeks. My son is considered "non-verbal". I was told when he was diagnosed that he might never speak at all. So it is impossible to express how it felt to actually HEAR those three little words...