Sunday, July 23, 2017

Play Date

After the success of Little A's birthday party, a co-parent and I decided to make play dates, something so common among typical kids and so rare among those like ours, a regular thing.

Within the next few weeks, we managed one, at a soft play centre with Little A and his female classmate. She is verbal, and very sweet, and her mum and I are determined to foster bonds between our kids that will hopefully last a lifetime.

After playtime, we sat at a café and had a snack. The two interacted minimally, again, as is typical, but were quite aware of each other. One sat and quietly sipped a drink, while the other gobbled down food and then plugged into an iPad, but they made fleeting eye contact, and smiled to see each other in a setting outside of a classroom.

There is a week of "freedom" before fourth grade starts, so hopefully in this time we can manage some more together time with schoolmates. Or Little A can just enjoy the last week of home time before fourth grade begins on August 1st.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Turning Ten

2007 was a busy year. Apple launched the iPhone (a bandwagon I only reluctantly hopped on in 2015). Amazon released the first Kindle (I waited cautiously until version 2 came along in 2009, to see if it was worth the hype). JK Rowling published the final book in the Harry Potter series.

And my little family came into existence as Little A was born.

This year he enters the double digits. For the first time, he had a party with "friends" - the half dozen fellow ASD boys and girl in his class, plus his cousins. Previously, all parties consisted of mine and Big A's other godchildren, so this one seemed special somehow.

The birthday boy wanted to swim at the club near my parents' house, which was also the venue for my own tenth birthday party (with a guest list consisting of my sisters and two best friends) thirty one years ago. There were four swimming pools and a new room where we had food, cake and balloons.

I hope a good time was had by all, and that this is just the first of many playdates to come with this group. While it would be really fantastic if Little A made some neurotypical friends, there is something to be said for hanging out with fellows who "get" you, or don't care about your quirks because they have their own as well. While interaction might be minimal, you can tell that the kids enjoy being together, and feel comfortable in each other's company. Win. Repeat!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Aussie Adventure, Part 2

With a week to go before our one-year visas expired, Big A and I went back Down Under for a hopefully-not-last hurrah.

Once again, we spent a week in Sydney and Melbourne, but this time we knew where we wanted to go in each city. While the retail scene in Sydney is better, Melbourne can't be beat for nightlife, dining, arts, and culture.

We explored some of the "suburbs" this time, as next trip we hope Little A can accompany us. There is so much he would enjoy, with numerous nearby zoos (including a safari-type adventure), an island filled with penguins, open water whale viewing, and an operating steam train.

When we got back Little A went straight into summer school, a month of morning classes on weekdays which he thoroughly enjoyed, and very much looked forward to attending.

He begins his fifth year at this school in a few weeks, and continues to love it, something we hope does not change in the many years to come.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Farewell, Third Grade

Today Little A officially becomes an incoming fourth grader. This year has been the best so far in terms of his improvements and achievements, behavior-wise, since he was diagnosed eight ears ago. Communication has also come a long way, and from what I observed in classroom structured activities, social interaction with his peers is getting better as well. 

I credit the leaps and bounds mainly to his fantastic pair of teachers. Both, but particularly the head teacher, went above and beyond the call of duty, and truly grew to love my son as much as his family does, and this genuine care over the ten month academic year translated into tangible gains across the board.

Another factor might well be the essential oil protocols we started last July. Little A's sleep has certainly improved thanks to the miracle plant that is Roman Chamomile. I like to think the calming and focusing blends had an effect as well, so much that by the third quarter they were hardly used anymore as there was no longer much of a need for them.

Finally, there is the constant that is Occupational Therapy, provided by living angel of a woman who has adjusted and readjusted Little A's programmes and goals over the past four years and watches him the most vigilantly of all. 

Miracles happen if you only know how to look for them. We have seen many in our son, just this past year.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Faraway Friends

One of my dearest friends, the sister-of-my-heart, with whom I share a name and a birthdate, has long lived on the other side of the world. For the past decade, at least. She has made her home there with a husband and two beautiful children.

Where we once spent many hours a week in each other's actual or over-the-telephone company, these days if we can manage to view each other's Instagram posts within the week of actual posting, that's a big win.

Still, I promised to visit her in wintry Helsinki, home of Moomins and wonderful design, and this year that promise came true.

Big A and his boy posse embark on a guy tour of Scottish golf courses and European racetracks in July, so I figured I deserved a trip as well. The timing couldn't have been better, as another dear, single, girlfriend decided this would be the year she finally visited London.

We spent a week in each other's company, seeing London, Berlin, and Budapest. Then I flew to Helsinki for three more days with my best friend (one of three, it must be said).

It was a wonderful trip, but I did miss my boys, and took comfort in knowing they were both safe at home, with each other.

That said, this isn't going to be my only trip to Finland, as another friend has moved there as well. With or without Big and Little A, I am determined to visit Scandinavia again. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Broken Ear

In about 7 weeks, Little A will be 10. In his lifetime thus far, he has never had to drink antibiotics, something I consider a huge win since a) he has so many other challenges already that we are extremely thankful that he generally enjoys good health, and b) as a perpetually sick child myself, I had taken numerous nasty medications too many times to count before I hit the double digits in age and hated each and every dose so was even more grateful not to have to subject my child to those same traumatic experiences.

But then a perforated eardrum came along. A cold combined with one too many swims must have done it. One afternoon when I collected him from school, Little A kept poking at his ear. At home he picked up the plastic tub of cotton buds and asked me to clean his ear, something we have never done in his life before.

Thinking he might, heaven forbid, have stuffed something in there, I gave the ear canal a very shallow swipe, and the cotton bud came away dark grey. I swiped again until the dirt was gone. The other ear yielded nothing. Apart from the poking, Little A showed no other signs of discomfort. 

I asked Big A if it might be an ear infection, something he and his brother suffered in quantity during their young years as national swimmers. He replied that with no fever and no indication off pain, it was unlikely. We kept an eye on him, but our son otherwise behaved as normal.

Two days later, Little A had a swim class. That evening, while I was at a meeting, Big A reported that Little A had fallen asleep on the couch at 7pm and seemed listless. Maybe it was his ear. That night, he woke up crying several times with a low grade fever and indicating his ear hurt.

The next morning his ear was red, swollen, and weeping liquid. The fever and listlessness continued, and Little A even typed "Doctor ears", showing he wanted medical attention. But Doctor Ears had no clinic hours on Wednesdays so we had to wait until Thursday morning to get him checked out. By this time, after constant applications of immune boosting essential oils, the fever was gone and the ear less red, and no longer weeping.

Doctor Ears confirmed a small perforation in Little A's right eardrum and prescribed drops and oral antibiotics to be administered twice daily for a week, followed by another visit. 

So just shy of his 10th birthday, we embark on his first antibiotic journey. May it be his last as well.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Great-Grandmother Love

Little A is fortunate to have one living great-grandparent still. My maternal grandmother is 80 years and 30 days older, and she and Little A have a bond he doesn't seem to share with any of his four grandparents, even.

While they don't spend as much time together as we'd like, when they are together there is a quiet kind of rapport between them, one that is comfortable and needs no words. He knows never to be his usual rough-and-tumble self around her, and always, always goes up to kiss her without being told. She talks to him, and he sits quietly and listens, something that even his teachers are challenged with, as are we at home.

My grandmother turns 90 this year, as Little A turns 10. She is still fairly able-bodied and certainly all there in her mind. I hope she and Little A get to enjoy a number more of years together in their unique Zen calm relationship.