October 19, 2011

New Blood

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , at 9:26 am by autismmommytherapist

I’m closing in on my second year of writing this blog now (and it seems like just yesterday I whined to my husband I’d never have enough to say on a weekly basis), and I’ve noticed the subjects of my posts are becoming cyclical. I just finished writing about what I like to call our family’s “Second Consecutive Fabulous Summer”, and pretty soon I’ll present to you my pictorial opus on the five thousand Halloween activities I require my children to attend. There have been some huge leaps of progress in the past year with both boys (and perhaps with their mommy too), coupled with seemingly insignificant baby steps that most human beings would miss. Since I am bound and determined to revel in what I like to call the “minutiae of improvement” EVERY SINGLE TIME it occurs, I’m happy to say I recognized this latest accomplishment of my eldest son, and would like to share it with all of you here.

And in true Halloween spirit, it has to do with blood.

One of the first posts I wrote a year-and-a-half ago was called “Angel for an Hour”, a missive about the trials and tribulations of the annual blood draw required of Justin so that he can remain safely on his medications, drugs that have made such a great difference in his life and in ours. Traditionally, the experience has been about as fun as having a root canal conducted at the DMV on the last day of the month, while simultaneously surviving a bikini wax gone awry.

Justin has been enduring these intrusions since he was a toddler, and despite upping the reward ante annually and the addition of a numbing cream on his arm (the one that literally saved my ass during the fertility wars), he has detested this event each and every time. For him, the experience has not just been about an aversion to pain- it’s also a sensory debacle. Getting his skin pierced and a needle inserted intravenously is a close cousin to his aversion to wearing hats, his disgust with family members wearing hats, any labels on his clothes, or the damn boardwalk wristbands it took two seasons of demand and reward to get him to tolerate.

Justin is not a boy who enjoys “extras”.

So it was with familiar trepidation that I booked our appointment for the earliest possible time on a Saturday morning, which is not the slightest bit inconvenient since the child gives roosters a run for their money. Finally the day of the draw dawned, and as we pulled into the empty parking lot armed with every conceivable toy that my SUV could handle, I noticed our first small step in the progress wars. There was no backseat protest, no utter indignation at our destination point. No low-grade (or who are we kidding, outright caterwauling) accompanied either the sultry sounds of Stevie Nicks or our car into those narrow parallel lines. I looked into the rearview mirror, and watched my son rocking back and forth with glee, clearly familiar with our destination, offering his tacit approval.

The kid was even smiling.

We made it through the waiting portion of the appointment with ease, my son casually perched on the edge of a chair until his name was called, walking slightly in front of me to an empty row of cubicles. I prepared myself for extraordinary multi-tasking, which traditionally has involved corralling my son while attempting to respond semi-intelligently to the Lab Corp representative’s questions, but I needn’t have worried. My boy just sat in the seat next to mine, whipped out his DVD and the vast array of choices I’d packed to placate him, and bided his time until I was done. This year, I didn’t have to try to hold his seventy-pound frame on my lap, or run after him to prevent his exploration of medical waste. He simply waited for ten entire minutes with ease.

I’ll say it again, in case you missed that last sentence. My boy waited for ten minutes with ease.

By this point I was pretty much ecstatic with our Lab Corp experience, sadly almost as giddy as when I got on that plane to Mexico this spring (this is what my life has come to), but I’ve learned not to get cocky in these situations. We still had the devilish draw to conquer, and were by no means out of the woods yet. As the technician finished recording our information I turned to Justin and told him we were done, and he simply stood, smiled at me as his favorite scene from Bolt regaled us for the thousandth time, and walked next to me without protest down that long corridor to bloodletting.

It’s October. I’m indulging in the drama.

We park ourselves in familiar chairs as I inform the technician that my son is eight and autistic, and I watch her eye him carefully, then turn back to me and say, “no problem”. I tell him to go behind the curtain and he complies, DVD player and glorious smile in tow. He slides right back on the chair, even makes an attempt to push up his sleeves by himself. I ask him to take off his coat instead and he does, revealing a t-shirt worn for easy access and two band-aids securely located in the crook of his arms, still intact with their magic cream.

I am stunned, because along with hats, glasses, and on occasion clothing of any kind, my son has rejected those plastic strips vehemently since toddlerhood, even the good ones with his favorite characters represented. Justin glances down as I slowly remove them and wipe off excess white, then returns to his player, far more interested in how a dog is going to save the world after all. Inwardly, I smile.

Hell. Today we’ve conquered waiting AND needles. The band-aids are almost over-kill.

The technician is extremely competent and kind, the latter a coveted and not necessarily frequent bonus, and within two minutes our mission is completed. During his “piercing” there is not one moment of protest, not a tear, no fuss. He in fact barely notices what’s occurring, seems slightly surprised when I motion him off the chair. In a week or two I’ll find out about the state of his thyroid, his triglycerides, and his overall health. I’m confident we’ll have positive results, and I’ll put this entire experience out of my mind. One of life’s little myriad annoyances will occur and I’ll momentarily forget this compilation of events, these small steps to progress that mean everything to me, to my boys, to my family.

But right now, as I escort my son back down the hallway at this early morning hour I’m just so proud of him, and all I can do is smile.


  1. That was a great story! What an amazing milestone! 🙂

  2. Misifusa said,

    Congrats to you both! This was major! Yippee!

  3. Mom said,

    Way to go Justin!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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