The Monster Is Eleven

It’s scary, but true – the Monster turned eleven back in May during the long, dark blackout in my writing.  (Normally, this post comes out on his birthday, a tradition I’ve had back for almost a decade now.)

Now, to be wholly fair, being so close to things, I don’t notice the little changes.  That said, I don’t feel like there’s been much significant change in the last twelve months – he’s certainly been exposed to a lot of things, had a lot going on around him, but the changes have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  Certainly, in some spots, we’re even seeing regression – points where he was doing fine and he’s sliding backwards, like his pace of eating or his ability to handle standard tasks that he normally handles just fine – but I’m finding myself wondering how much of it is just his being a pre-teen, and how much of it is something that’s a side effect of how ABA’s been handling some of his things.

Speaking of ABA, my job-change really threw a spanner into things.  Despite having roughly the same insurance as the old job, it turns out that they shouldn’t have been billing our ABA as ‘in-network’ with this provider and… we were forced to drop ABA for the time being.  It’s a mixed bag really, because I felt like there were places that it was significantly helping him – he’s definitely gotten more independent in some self-care or picking things to do – but the turnover in supervising BCBAs caused issues with even having goals.  If we do put him back into ABA this year, it’ll be with an eye towards a constant BCBA and consistent goals for the technician.  But things we’ve gotten out of ABA – he certainly has better verbalisms for when he doesn’t know what he wants.  He asks for help now in a more discernible fashion.  He can handle most of his bedtime routine himself (including brushing teeth) and we’re starting now and again on having him help with simple meal prep like grilled cheese sandwiches when life permits.

On the other hand, we seriously now have to start talking about what he’ll do for his bar mitzvah, as it’s two years out.  Not that we’ve picked a date yet – we’ll do that this fall, I imagine, in meetings with our clergy – but we have to figure out what we think he’s capable of doing and what would be meaningful for him.  I’d like very much to build it around him having some singing or the like, which he can do very well… and then there are the times that he surprises me, like when he starts echoing my practicing a portion at least in terms of the melody.

One big positive for this past year – the Monster’s continued with youth curling at our club.  This year, the US Curling Association instituted (with little warning) a game that they threw across clubs in the US requiring a variety of skills to declare club winners.  There was no time to request accommodations for the Monster, so he competed as an actual nearly-eleven-year-old and… he actually came in second in his age bracket after a tie-breaker to decide who was our actual club winner.  (Okay, okay, there were only two of them, but still, he and the other child tied after the initial round and had to have a repeat draw-to-the-button to decide the winner.  And the Monster wasn’t too far off the mark just… on the next sheet over.  Alas.)

This coming school year (well, the one we’re really already in, since his school starts in July) finds him legally as a rising fifth grader.  We’re fortunate that his school’s now a K-8 so we don’t have to worry about an additional transition now before high school… but it also reminds us that we’re running out of time before he is in high school and we have to start worrying about transitions to adulthood.

Why does he have to keep getting older?

The Monster Turns Seven

Monster at the PlaygroundSo we’re at the end of another year, and the Monster’s seventh birthday was yesterday.

Like the last two years, we’ve celebrated with cupcakes and the like, with no real decision when/if we’re going to throw a party for him.  It’s hard to decide to do the party thing when he really doesn’t have any friends – he’s not invited to any of the other children’s birthday parties from his class at school, and we don’t really know any of the other parents in the class, despite my wife being the class parent.  We’ll probably do some family thing over Memorial Day weekend again, since that’s a convenient time for my family to come down. Continue reading

Party On!

We frequently hear about how children with Autism are excluded from parties – I’ve written about the topic before, unapologetically.  There’s also been quite a bit about how kids with Autism tend to be marginalized by not having a lot of folks come to their parties…

But one good thing in the world is family.  You can have hundreds of folks out there who aren’t going to include your child, but your family will always, always include your kids, no matter what.

This weekend was my nephew Z’s birthday party… and I’ll admit that I’d been somewhat nervous about the idea of taking the Monster to the party. Continue reading

Party Planning

The Monster’s belated birthday party is this weekend.

Because R is two, his birthdays are lightly themed, but are moving in the direction of having some kind of actual structure – we’ll probably have to have a “real” birthday party for him next year.  The Monster, at six, still is getting what is really an overglorified playdate with a BBQ… for a lot of good reasons. Continue reading