September 7, 2011

The Boys of Summer

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:57 am by autismmommytherapist

I recently posted a status update on Facebook that read “Happy School Eve”, and I meant it. As much as I love summer (and I’ve always been a summer girl), there comes a point every season since I’ve given birth where I’m completely over warm weather, long unstructured days with my progeny, and applying sunscreen to said offspring. Sadly, there have been years when my “over point” has occurred in June, which was quite unfortunate for me. This year we made it all the way to Irene, who thankfully left my house and loved ones intact but completely sucked the life out of me (see The “I” of the Storm). I regard this as great progress that I did not succumb to that desperate need to see yellow looming outside my door until the last week in August.

I am really quite proud of myself.

What was profoundly different about this particular hiatus was that both of my children were mostly happy, eager to try new things, and (for the most part) well-behaved. Once I accepted the fact that for the better part of two months I would accomplish nothing other than keeping the kids alive (an inner struggle you would think I would have conquered by now, but is still a work in progress), I relaxed, and truly enjoyed watching them revel in the freedom I so loved as a child.

Over the last few months I had the privilege of watching my youngest son decide he wanted to swim, then conquer the skill in a matter of days. I saw my eldest child master floating in his own pool, as well as take his first tentative steps at attempting an actual stroke. I was witness to Justin’s all-encompassing pride at his equestrian pursuits, and Zachary’s decision to ride the waves solo at POAC’s annual surf day. With the help of my oldest son’s BCBA we were able to elongate Justin’s beach time well past our traditional half-hour stay, and I feel that my boy even grew to enjoy an extended stay on sand and surf again. Last, my husband and I had the pleasure of taking Zach on his first solo Adventure Day”, an outing Zach still speaks about, and one Jeff and I hope to repeat in the near future.

Here are some photos capturing the “highlights” of the season. I feel it’s important to honor these pathways to progress because if someone had told me even two years ago I’d experience a summer such as this, I wouldn’t have believed them. Both boys have made such great strides. Now their mother is relearning how live in the moment.

I hope you enjoy these moments as much as I did. Here’s to a wonderful fall!

(The first time he swam underwater…)


(Holding on for dear life)

(The adventure has just begun!)

(The first time he went “solo”)


(Always a body in motion)

(Loving the pool this summer!)

(Enjoying being “pushed around” for the first time)

(Mastering the art of the float)

(Thrilled to perform!)

(Relearning to love the beach)

(My beach boy)

(Just two guys out for a swim)

(No caption necessary!)

Hope you had a wonderful summer!

August 1, 2011

Care for a Swim?

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , at 9:15 am by autismmommytherapist

I slide the glass door gently back into place, and shimmering waves of heat greet me and Zach as we scurry across searing concrete to the water’s edge. He needs no encouragement to break the serene surface of our pool, whose liquid depths welcome us to temperatures reminiscent of bath water. I quickly drop our beach towels onto an empty lounge chair, and wade out three-quarters of the way into the shallow end just to rid myself of the sweat that’s accumulated during our five foot walk/run. I turn around just in time to see Zach descend the last step and plant his feet firmly on myriad shades of blue ceramic tile, hands on hips as he regards me from afar.

I urge him to “swim to me”, which up to this point has meant several consecutive paddles in a row accompanied by a face flatly refusing to immerse itself in chlorine. He smiles, thrusts his arms out before him with serious intent, flexes his feet, and uses the juncture of floor and step as leverage to propel himself toward me. Tiny pockets of air burst to freedom, heralding the arrival of a tow-headed boy who navigates most of the width of our pool underwater, a feat interrupted solely by my waiting arms as he embraces me. Zach plants himself on solid ground, wipes streams of water from his eyes and shouts, “I did it!  I swam just like Logan!”  It appears the child who’s been convinced all summer that anything more than a two-second immersion signifies imminent drowning is now swimming all of his own accord, simply because he saw his buddy do it two days before.

In other words, he’s acquired this new and vastly important skill simply because he wanted to imitate his friend.

We’ve tried this route before with other integral milestones, generally to no avail. With the guidance of his teacher the winter Zach turned three we attempted our first round of potty training, which ended after four weeks with his lovely educator practically begging us to abort and try again in the fall. We of course had included the requisite rewards as incentives to make deposits in our porcelain potties, and had trotted out various men and boys as role models to inspire him, but at the time, nothing worked.

He was also singularly unimpressed by watching his brother and father relieve themselves the “big boy way”, and equally unmoved by glimpses of his friends at school doing the same. Zach was quite content with the women in his life continuing to change his diaper, and equally happy to leave the men in his life to their own pursuits when it came to toilet habits. When it came to imitating his peers or the main males in his world, he couldn’t have cared less. This attitude has since extended to trying fruits, vegetables and any food group his mother has deemed particularly healthy as well.

Over the course of the past year I’ve seen this attitude shift and slowly disintegrate, making way for a child who’s eager to try new things that previously terrified him if he witnesses someone “cool” doing them first. This past month he expressed his desire to ride the roller coaster with Justin “like the big boys”, which now that he finally meets the height requirements, we allowed him to experience. He’s watched a friend from school scale the heights of a jungle gym with a relative ease, an activity that in the past had seemed completely daunting to my son. I’ve since watched him carefully calculate his chances at survival, vault the structure, and succeed in conquering it. On one particularly dare-devil morning he even permitted a “banana-pancake” to cross his lips, simply because his big brother had tried one. The fact that both slices of carb were subsequently rejected was irrelevant to the fact that at least both of my children had attempted a new food group.

Perhaps I’ll go crazy and try blueberries next. Maybe they will not offend.

This urge to mimic is momentous (of course, I may not think so when he’s a teen-ager), and I hope to continue capitalizing on it in the future. Maybe he’ll watch in admiration as his older brother walks his plate to the sink without being told a thousand times, and cart his own cutlery without my nagging. Perhaps now that playdates are occurring more easily, Zach will display a desire to clean up at their conclusion without prompting (I’ve been told that dream may be a bit unreasonable). As a converted “Skinnerian”, I am enthralled with the different ways I can use this new motivator to coax out more desirable behaviors down the road.

Who knows what could be next. After all, a few feet and a new milestone from our back door, a diving board beckons.

July 20, 2010

Gratitude Attitude

Posted in Fun Stuff tagged , , at 8:33 am by autismmommytherapist

Today I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Lauren from our local Challenger program, a brave individual who has made it through six consecutive hours of swim lessons with my oldest son and remained both alive and positive throughout the entire ordeal. Once Justin accepted that she wouldn’t let go of him, Lauren was able to convince my son that floating on his back isn’t necessarily evil, that kicking is both permitted and desirable in chlorinated water, and that submerging one’s face in the pool is not synonymous with death. He’s not swimming yet, but I have a feeling eventually we’ll get there, and Lauren is game for however long it takes. Thank you both to Lauren and the Challenger program for providing this opportunity to kids with special needs!