The boys and I had a huge “autism success” yesterday!
Both Tyler (our almost 15-year-old who has autism) and Griffin, (our “typical” 13-year-old) needed to get a couple of shots at their doctor’s office. We’ve had a rough and difficult history, not only of going places, but especially going to the physician. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I took them together, by myself . And, most definitely, I cannot recall the last time I took Tyler, without any support, to the doctor’s office at all!
With the wonderful support we are fortunate to receive that helps Tyler learn to manage his difficult autism behaviors and inability to communicate verbally, Tyler has gone from someone who Griffin and I felt anxious to be with in public, to one who can stay calm and appropriate often. He used to run, climb, scratch and bite others; it was impossible for me to take him anywhere. As I’ve explained in an earlier post, Griffin and I were often on the receiving end of his bites and scratches and occasionally he would have aggressive behavior toward others. We always stay guarded from this history, but are willing to allow Tyler to show his growth, too!
As plans sometimes change, my “supports” were not able to accompany me to the doctor’s office . (I did give very short notice!)
I thought long and hard about it. I wanted to cancel, but we were under a deadline…
Could I do this myself?
Old fears kicked right in.
I decided, for both Griffin and me, that we would do it.
I explained to Tyler that we were going to the doctor’s office, that he and Griffin would be getting a shot in the arm, it would hurt for a moment, and then we would go get a “treat” and head to school. He appeared to listen to me and watch my eyes as I talked. I always wonder about the extent of his understanding when I talk to him. In the past, I am ashamed to say I would not have even explained, assuming he would not understand. I am now taking a new approach believing that he is able to understand much more than I know.
We got to the office, and Griffin and I made it “as fun” as possible (Griffin was feeling pretty apprehensive himself, over the whole “shots” thing) for Tyler. We let him push the elevator buttons (a preferred activity!), and talked about the “cake pops” at Starbucks we would have after the visit.
Sitting in the waiting room, Tyler pulled out his iPad and used his communication program to say “I need to go to the bathroom.” This, too, is such remarkable progress for him! After this, we waited some more. I watched and complimented him for how well he was waiting, since this has always been extremely challenging for him.
As we headed back with the petite nurse, my mind wondered whether she could handle Tyler, whether Tyler could handle this, and what would come of it? I had angst-ridden visions of Tyler biting, running, screaming, or making some sort of horrific scene. I tried very hard to “sit with the discomfort” and allow him to prove me wrong. I believe Griffin was cautiously thinking many of the same things, too.
To our great relief, Tyler did beautifully. He ran quickly past the room they directed us to (I believe he remembered long ago that he had gotten a shot there) and the nurse kindly allowed us to change to another room. More waiting, but no “drama” at all.
It is amazing watching Tyler, who has no ability to lie, pretend, or act like someone he is not, process situations. He looked at the needles and shots that the nurses had and his eyes opened wide. ”Here it comes,” I thought, waiting for a run or a yell. He was not at all happy and I could see trepidation in his eyes, but he “sat with the discomfort” and finally allowed this very petite woman to give him two quick shots. Not a tear was shed, but he looked at it and understood she would apply a band-aid. He touched the area and I asked, “Does that hurt?” He echoed “hurt” as I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him!
You would think the story ends here.
I have found, in a family like ours where Tyler’s autism over-shadows everything, that the people without the unique needs (in this case, Griffin) can be overlooked at times. I was so happy and relieved that Tyler handled the shots well, that I forgot to see that Griffin was looking at me to support him, too. I felt truly inadequate as a mother, that I needed the look in his eyes to remind me he was there, too. Life is always there to humble me!
We left feeling very successful, I am thrilled to say! Everyone received their “treats” and I was able to move past an ancient fear, this time.
This is not to say I won’t feel great anxiety again when we have to make a visit to the doctor. In fact, I wonder even now if Tyler has filed away in his mind, that place and the hurt of the shot, to recall at a future time. But, I will celebrate this success, and not worry about the future for now.
Latest Fabulous Revelations:
- People with autism can grow, mature, and make wonderful progress
- People without autism can grow, mature, and make wonderful progress, too!
- It is always good to “be in the moment” and “sit with discomfort” at times
- Sometimes I can be pleasantly surprised at the skills my children have and the kindness of others
- The promise of a “treat” can also get all of us through the tough stuff!
I am just so delighted to share my successes! It has been such a long and difficult journey. There are no guarantees for the road ahead, but each success is a celebration!
How about you? Do you find that people will exceed your expectations, to your great joy as well?
Cheers and xox!