Adult Movies?

Here is one of the tricky things about autism: you need to be very specific about what you are communicating. Bryan loves, loves, loves movies. He knows the names of all of the actors in a movie he is interested in, he knows the soundtracks, he knows or asks if it’s real or not. However, you need to be really specific. For example, he asks “Can I watch American Hustle?” Before we answer he says, “it’s an adult movie”. Well most people don’t think of American Hustle as an adult movie, but rather as a movie for adults. To hear him ask, “do you like adult movies?” or “I don’t watch adult movies”, well you have to chuckle a little bit. English is a crazy language and I think for kids with autism, where often the nuance or the spirit of the expression is not apparent, the navigation can be a bit tricky. He is also grappling with what is real and what is fake. He asks if animated movies are real or fake. Well they are all fake or fictional but some things are just not that black and white. The story can be fake and certainly an animated movie is not real, but it is a real animated movie and the voices of the characters are real voices from real people. If you are following this then you are doing better than I am. It’s sort of like a brain teaser. If Bradley Cooper is a real person and he plays the voice of Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy and Rocket is kind of a raccoon, which is a real animal, is Bradley Cooper real or fake? Well you have to “pick a side” and go with it. All animated movies/cartoons are fake…period. Voices are from real people but characters are fake. I think I may need a spreadsheet to remember everything.
The real vs. fake theme has carried to another level as well. Bryan is obsessed with dead relatives and their photos. Every day he is taking a photo of my grandparents and Earl’s grandparents and asking if they are real or fake, dead or alive. Something feels off to get frustrated with your kid and say, “Bryan my Nana Doris is dead, go play X-box”. However, after hearing the question 400 times you get a little frustrated.
I could not blog at the end of the first week of school without addressing it. Bryan is an 8th grader, same teacher, same school, BMOC. He couldn’t wait to go back and he loves his teacher, aides, speech teacher etc. As soon as he got home from camp he went right to my facebook page to look at all of them. I don’t think we had any concerns about his transition from summer to school. Jason is a 6th grader and was starting middle school. This is the first year in a few years, and probably the last year ever, they will be in the same school. Although they have their share of fights, they are happy to go together. Bryan always knows everyone at his school; he is friendly and says hi. At orientation Jason was even a little shocked by how many people knew Bryan and acknowledged him. Jason has had a really good week. He likes his teachers and has made a few friends. However, I am suspect, waiting for the other shoe to drop. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I accept the fact that perhaps Jason is well adjusted and is going with the flow? Why do I have this nagging feeling like I’m being lulled into a false sense of security? Only time will tell.

Nice try, Mom

I have not blogged in a very long time. I suppose it’s a combination of distraction, lack of focus, lack of material worth blogging about. I think on some level the need to share about Bryan has slowed down. Some of the issues that we faced when he was younger, the constant worry, craziness and delirium which is autism has not gone away but has diminished in some ways. Bryan just got home from his 3rd year at Camp LeeMar. He goes for 7 weeks and this year he was in the “seniors” group. How is my boy in the senior of anything? To translate, at LeeMar this means he is in a cabin and not in the main building, which is like a dorm. A cabin, with AC. Yikes. At this camp they do all of the things typical kids do at camp but they also have academics and speech. Kind of the best of both worlds. He came home tall and thin. When he was away I was not really thinking about autism too much. I don’t really think of him in those terms anymore, it’s almost like it doesn’t fit exactly right. When I think of Bryan and his autism,  I think of the 7-9 year old Bryan pinching,  screaming and not really communicating effectively. I had a shock to the system last Saturday. I went to the open house for a music program for special  needs kids at the School of Rock. I am a huge supporter of this program and participated in some of the planning for the new curriculum. The folks there are so eager to work with our kids and to make the program a success; which I know it will be. There was a young man  at the open house who is a little older than Bryan and I have known for years through Parkland Buddy Sports. He was sitting on a chair and his behaviors, talking a little to himself, his mannerisms, all of a sudden I felt like I was hit with a brick. OMG,  Bryan is coming home and he still has autism. If you are not an autism parent you will think I’m insane. What do you mean he still has autism? It’s not like I ever thought it went away, but when  I think of him I don’t think about autism. I just think about Bryan. They are not separable in reality but they are separable in my heart. The only analogy I can make is that when I think about Jason, I think about him and his personality,not any of his “behaviors”.  So sitting at this meeting it just jolted me to the fact that Bryan is coming home and I will now be back in my world of friends, supporters and community which is autism. It’s not a bad thing at all, just a reality check. 

Bryan is doing great. He communicates pretty well now and can have a fairly decent conversation. I would say the toughest day to day challenge is getting him  to stop repeating things over and over and calming his anxiety. Piece of cake! The maturity, the coping skills have increased dramatically. Yesterday was a huge day. We went bowling after lunch,Bryan, Jason and me. I have taken the week off from work to spend time with them and it’s been a treat for me. If you are a full  time working Mom, which I am, a staycation with the boys is like a bouquet of roses, each day a different one blooms and shows you something beautiful, and expensive!!! Ok, back to the bowling. I am not a dopey mom. I know the only reason they are going bowling is to get to the arcade when we are finished. No bowling, no arcade! We agree to bowl one game (if you are wondering why take them at all, you have never spent a summer in South Florida where it’s 100 degrees plus 100% humidity). I am the 3rd bowler and after each of us go, we say things like “good one”, “nice one” and then Bryan says “Nice try, Mom”. So appropriate. I have that warm feeling inside knowing that he is with us, in the moment, participating. Jason and I share our secret knowing smile when we acknowledge a “Bryan thing”.

We left bowling and went to Publix. We came home and went to middle school orientation for Jason. I could write 3 blogs about that. We went to each of his new classes and by the 3rd period both Jason and I started to relax. We didn’t realize that were going to go meet each teacher and essentially follow his schedule. Bryan was not happy; he didn’t know either that we were going to do this and the unexpected plan was a little tricky for him to navigate. The 12 year old Bryan could never have handled this but the 14 year old Bryan was able to hold it together. It almost went south a few times but he has better coping skills now. He also recognized that it was an important time for Jason and quite honestly, that means the most. 

Jason never ceases to amaze me. He never once suggested Bryan should  stay home even though he knew it could be tough for Bryan or potentially embarrassing. Only once or twice did Jason say to me, please ask Bryan to be quiet. Jason’s true and pure acceptance of Bryan for who he is represents one of the best parts of my life.

I am easing my way back into blogging, autism and all things middle school. Note to self: after school supply shopping pick up a new bottle of Citron Vodka.