Making a Difference

Paul, my husband, homeschools Nathan. That alone is a huge commitment. He has given up a humongous chunk of free time (all of it, really, because he is never free to pursue his own interests. Nathan requires SO much intervention and monitoring that there is hardly anything Paul can do of his own.) And he is trapped with Nathan all day, every day. When Nathan was so bad over the winter, Paul had it 24/7. Because being alone in the house with him was so fraught with peril, he sometimes felt that he could not even leave me alone, especially if the other 2 were home (which escalated Nathan further.)

On top of that, we both have always valued academics. Even though Paul was never hung up on grades (a nice way of saying that as long as he passed, he really didn't care about grades) he has a dual BS in Math and EE. So he knows shit. A lot of it. Dinners at his house often involved him and his dad (who worked for NASA) and his brother (who has a physics BS and works with computers) and his oldest sister (who has a masters in chemistry) and his younger sister (who is working on her PhD in history of science) and his youngest sister (who majored in Japanese) discussing physics and space. The only thing *I* got out of physics was a husband, to tell the truth.

I figure that I doomed my children to autism the day I decided in English class that there was no way in hell I would date a jock. All those jocks are now living in a cul-de-sac with their 2.5 normally developing children. But I digress.

So Paul feels that, because Nathan has not been able to do much academically this year, he is pretty much failing at homeschooling. Which is what he feared from the beginning. And from the beginning I told him "HUN, how can you do worse than the school has done? You have a low bar." I'm not sure that was the most supportive thing I could say. But I never dated a jock, and I never was the cheerleader type, either.

But we were discussing Nathan tonight and I suddenly turned to him and said "Do you realize Nathan has been mostly talking in his REAL voice?" And it's true. Always before Nathan either stim-talked (just repeated things he had heard on videos) at the top of his lungs or talked 'sotto voce'-so quietly no one could understand him. When he's melting down he talks in this very strained voice that is so altered it is also difficult to interpret.

I have spent more time saying "Use your real voice" that I feel like a mechanical--just wind me up and push a button and you too can have your own talking doll! I only say the one thing though. That and "you can control your behavior" and "you can change your thoughts. Let's think of positive thoughts to replace your stuck thought."

Speaking of stuck thoughts, tonight Nathan got stuck and upset. Biting himself, the usual. So I took him to his list of ways to get to positive thoughts. Mom loves me, tickles, and Music (with a few options-Handel, Raffi.) He chose Handel. So I pulled it up on the computer and he rocked stiffly, then sat on my lap. Over 20 minutes he got calm.

Today Paul and he were out walking and when they took a turn (for the worse, literally) that he didn't expect he melted down. After throwing himself down a few times he began screaming out a song to calm himself down.

He's developing more skills. More skills at communicating and, most importantly, more skills at self-regulating. He can now occupy himself by playing Wii or with the iPad. And lest you think that any kid can do that, he couldn't. Not until this year. He spent every second of the day on the move. Touching, climbing on everything (the mantle, the curtain rod, the chest of drawers.) One of his TSS said he could use his toes like a monkey to climb up. He was a danger to himself and all of our stuff. He was impossible to buy a present for, because there was nothing he would stop to do. Except break it apart. Or chew it. So, to sit down and play Wii. Yeah, that's an accomplishment. It's called "Leisure Time Activity." And it's a goal on our planner. Suck that, you over achieving "My kid is an Honor Roll Student." My kid is home playing on the iPad! And it's SCHOOL.

So Paul feels a little better. And I'm so proud of both of them. Every step is a struggle. But this difference is leading to happiness. Even if it's not the honor roll.


  1. Whoa. I can't begin to tell you how much I loved reading this. I have a lump in my throat even. Because dude. That's progress.


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