The main event from this month was a stay at Wilderness at the Smokies in Tennessee for my Grandmother’s 90th birthday. Nearly all of her grandchildren and great grandchildren made it and we stayed for a long weekend. It went as well as we could have hoped, which was nice. Henry is a flight risk and hotel rooms are not very good at being able to lock you in. Turning the handle from the inside of the room automatically unlocks the door. So we had to use the chain and it was constantly being pulled on and banged around. My daughter was up for 3 hours one night. I walked the halls of the hotel for what seemed like forever in flip flops while my daughter was in a front harness. I ended up hurting my foot from all the barefoot walking with the added weight. It feels better some days but then the pain comes back.
Overall it was a good trip (“within driving distance” is extremely helpful for us) and it was great to be there to support my grandmother on her 90th birthday. We took over the back room of a restaurant for the birthday celebration. I felt bad for the other people who were stuck with us for that lunch. The indoor water park at the Wilderness at the Smokes was cool. I was a fan.
What happened this month? Hmm… Well, both of the boys’ preschool years ended. The second-to-last day of Henry’s preschool was a party with the parents/families invited. It was great to see him in his element. He did very well and exceeded our expectations. Basically we are not expecting enough out of him on a regular basis. Two days before said party, we went to a developmental pediatrician and procured a diagnosis for Henry. “Renowned” is maybe too strong of a word, but this doctor came highly recommended by nearly everyone in the area. She exuded confidence and experience. She told us what many others would not: that Henry has autism.
What does this mean for us, exactly? Well, it means a lot of the same things will continue. We will continue to search for a therapist we like that does home visits. He will continue to go specialized preschool provided by the county. Going to restaurants and traveling may continue to be difficult for a while. It means his speech may not emerge for a long, long time… possibly ever. It also means some other things that you’d rather not think about as a parent. It means I have to cringe for the rest of my life as “short bus” (and related) jokes are pervasive in society. It means I have to cringe even harder when I realize I am guilty of this myself, probably several thousand times over. It means that I have to worry about Henry attending “integrated” (aka normal) elementary classes and how he will be treated by other students. But all worrying aside, it certainly doesn’t amount to a whole lot of change for us. Henry is Henry. He’s been a handful since he was in the womb. Henry is affectionate, loves jokes, loves books, and loves his “videos.” We didn’t pursue a diagnosis so we could “fix” him, but rather so we could help learn what things we need to do, force our insurance to cover some more services, and speak knowledgably with his teachers and therapists about his condidtion (as opposed to “we’ll see, we’ll see”).
We have a lot of relatives asking (either directly or indirectly) what his prognosis is going to be. And the answer is: no one knows. One tenth of autistic children shed their symptoms by adulthood, and no one knows why or how to predict this. Fortunately I am comfortable with not knowing the future; my wife is still coming around to the idea.
We also attended Stephen’s preschool graduation with my parents. It was a disaster. So poorly run/organized. It was adorable, though. I [embarassingly] “pulled a move” with the camcorder, and by the end I was turning it on when I thought I was turning it off and vice-versa. Yes, it’s the same move your parents pulled when you were a kid. It’s the same reason my parents have hours of video of walking around with the camera pointed at the sky or ground. That’s what I get for trying to use the camcorder instead of settling for phone videos. The worst part for me is that they sang a Bob Marley song and I didn’t get to record it! It was awesome. The family behind us started singing along. It was probably my favorite moment of the year so far.
I abruptly stopped watching television. My “job” of watching children is a non-stop thing lasting from 6am-8pm, seven days a week. Watching TV felt like another job even though I barely watch anything. I’ve got this one hour before bed that I can watch tv and it became a nightly “assignment.” I’m trying to add to my life by taking away things I consider distractions. Addition by subtraction.
The cat has been officially moved outside. I scheduled to have her euthanized but I couldn’t go through with it. She seems to be doing better than ever now that she’s outside. Her coat looks good and she’s maintaining a healthy weight. She’s killed a couple of lizards, a mole, and a few bunnies. She shows up in the morning and evening to be fed, and I hide her medicine in her food.