Nothing I say in here is all that incredible for most children. The things that Kender does that cause me to constantly turn to my companions and say, “Wow, that’s new! He doesn’t usually do that!” are so normal and obvious that I can tell most people are just rolling their eyes at me. I was never one of those people who got online to report all the new things their child could do. I don’t remember specific first words, I don’t remember more than a rough date for first steps, anything specific for my other kids. I do remember exactly when and where Caitlin took her first steps, because she was several months behind. Otherwise…no.
With Kender, we spent several years with him being exactly the same. He had the same skills, the same expressions, the same behaviors, everything the same, for about 3 years. It was like he was the eternal infant, never changing, just getting a little bigger. It started to seem like he would always be that way, and the list of things he couldn’t do grew faster than the list of things he could. Every time we got him around another child his age, it was more and more painfully obvious just how far behind he was falling.
Now that Kender is moving forward, albeit on his very own path, every step is startling. Little things. Yesterday, he laid down to wet and rinse his hair in the tub when I asked him to, he tried to help wash himself with a soapy rag, and he tried to dry himself off. He hollered, “Mom!” at me across the playground after squirming his way onto a swing seat, and when I replied, he shouted, “I need a push!” Several times, he said, “Yeah,” appropriately in response to questions like, “Do you like that ice cream?” instead of just repeating the question. He has started shouting, “Mom! I need help!” when he gets stumped trying to use a new skill, like getting dressed or brushing his teeth. He carries his food and drink to the table. He asks for his cane when leaving the house. He has started watching TV a bit and asking for his favorite DVD. He is trying to interact with games on my tablet.
He has some new frustrations, too. He tends to eat maybe a half or a third of the food on his plate, and then he starts asking for more. If you tell him to finish what he has first, he spends the rest of the meal throwing a screaming hissy fit. Screaming hissy fits, in fact, are the order of the day lately, although he will go to his room if you tell him to.
Kender is still not potty trained. I have given up for now, and am about to place an order for a new and better supply of cloth pull-ups. I spoke with some other moms of older, special needs kids before settling on the Gro-Via My Choice Trainers, and I hope these will perform much better than the Bummis trainers we were using previously. They should have much better absorbency and containment, so that every wet diaper doesn’t result in needing a whole new pair of pants.
I saw a news story this morning about a little boy in Lansing, six years old and autistic, who had escaped and been found wandering. It made the news partly because the police didn’t know who he belonged to. It reminded me that I still have not given Kender’s information to our local police department. What is holding me back from such an important safety move? Partly fear of the authorities, fear of being judged, of people saying I am negligent or deficient because I can’t keep my child in the house, because he is not potty trained. I saw a lot of that judgement on display in the comments to the news article this morning. In my position, that commentary is extraordinarily hard to take. Nobody would ever blame me because he was blind (although they might tell me to stop having deformed children), but autistic developmental problems suddenly become my fault in the public eye. Regardless, I will be going to visit the police station today, with Kender’s photograph and vital information.
Yesterday, I met up with an old TAMS friend at the park, as she and her family were passing through on their way to summer vacation up north. She has two children now, the oldest just 2 months younger than Kender. Seeing them together did not leave me wanting to cry in grief and frustration, as has usually been the case in such situations; instead, I was happy, celebrating the new things I saw Kender doing.