I started the New Year with a vacation in honor of my brother’s visit for the holidays. From the week of Christmas through last week I think I got a total of maybe three work days in. The rest of the time I either rested or socialized. Housework, of course, doesn’t take vacations, so it’s not like I did nothing. I just didn’t do much writing.
One of those days was spent cleaning Alex’s room, including removing the jumped-to-bits mattresses and boxsprings from his room and downsizing to the one bed. I bought him a new mattress—no boxspring—and we placed it on the floor in anticipation of a special kind of bed that will be made up for him. We spent most of the school day at that project and Alex was very pleased with the results. In the coming months, we hope to do something similar for Ben’s room and maybe even Willy’s room. The goal is to give their spaces a facelift and leave it with a more personal touch.
Another way we kicked off the New Year was to meet our new social worker. Under the autism waiver, we’ve worked with the same fantastic lady for the entirety of our term. She’s been at least on the periphery of every major event in our lives for the last decade. Luckily, we don’t have to say goodbye, but we did have to say hello to someone new. The new lady brings different skillsets and different knowledge. After talking with her briefly, we began to consider some new prospects for the boys, especially Alex and Ben. For one thing, there is now a school for children with exceptional special needs, i.e. autism, which may be a better place for Alex and Ben to attend school. It’s only about 15 to 20 minutes away, and since both boys are “segregated” from their regular education peers anyway, it might be best for them to be in school dedicated to their needs. On the other hand, we’re also on the lookout for local art classes/instruction sessions for students with special needs. In short, she took me seriously when I said the boys have talents we’d like to foster and nurture for the sakes of their future.
Alex’s communication needs are still very much in the forefront of our thoughts. While he’s growing and expanding his interests (more about that later), his communication challenges still hold him back in significant ways. Ben, on the other hand, is becoming more communicative on his own. For example, when the nail on the toe he almost broke a while back tore below the quick, he made this fact known by saying, “Band-Aid please.” This being a first for Ben, I asked him if he had an “owie” (something I wasn’t convinced he’d recognize) or if he wanted to play with it. He said, “Owie. Band-Aid please.” Then, he moved his foot to draw attention to his bloody toe. Needless to say, he got his Band-Aid. The remarkable thing is that he’s not only left it on, he’s let me change it and left the new ones on while his toe nail heals. His toe is doing much better now, and he’s not limping nearly as much as he was. Pretty soon it will be entirely healed!
The main focus of this New Year will be on transition planning for the two older boys. Despite his initial reluctance, Willy is now interested in going to college so he can learn cool things like his Uncle Patrick. (Apparently, the things I’ve been learning for the last seven years of college just aren’t cool enough for Willy.) As Alex’s interests expand, they gravitate more towards the visual arts, including multi-dimensional arts, and that continues to be my hopes for him in lieu of the school’s plans. The eye of this year is fixed on the future, doing what we can to make sure our children’s futures are as luminous as they are.