It’s Spring Break. We took a week away to rest as a family and now we are back with just less than a week at home to spend with friends and our wonderful extended family. I have had the opportunity to be with some dear friends the past few days and I am so thankful for it.
With one we talked about our boys. She has a son who is Jake’s age. She shared some of their struggles with me. It made me feel so much better. We laughed together, with understanding, and with tears hiding just around the corner. It is so nice to hear someone else say, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” or to be able to be honest and say, “I feel I should have done better.” The tears are from the guilt, the feeling that somehow there must be more ways I can help my kiddo.
I shared one story with her and I thought I could share it here. Jake, you see, is awesome with Lego. He is articulate and has a super vocabulary. He reads and does well at math. Yet, he struggles with cutlery. He really has a hard time with a spoon, but a fork? Forget it. He eats with his fingers, almost exclusively.
For some meals, this is okay. Others, not so much. We are working on it. But there are times when I just wonder, have we missed something? Have we forgotten to teach him how to use cutlery? He can use a fork, but forgets without constant reminders. Forgets! Several times during a meal. It makes me wonder if the issue is muscle coordination, executive functioning and planning, or what. Penny already uses a spoon about as well as Jake, so I really don’t think it is a parenting fail, but it’s impossible to say for sure.
There are specialized cutlery sets you can buy for autistic eaters. They are bright and grippy, with fun handles. I wonder if we should try them. It makes me think we can’t be alone in our finger food issues.
It’s the kind of thing that wasn’t such a big deal when he was younger, we had so many other higher priorities. As he gets older, however, it makes him stand out, and it makes such a mess. Learning how to use cutlery will be an essential ability for him as he builds social skills.
With dear friends and their kids over for dinner the other night, I was thrilled with Jake’s relaxed and comfortable attitude. He spent a long time talking with the dad and then another long time talking with the rest of the adults after dinner. He has been telling me since then that he “enjoys participating in adult conversations.” Meanwhile, Aiden played an elaborate make believe game in the basement for hours with the other children. I think he may have been a naughty cat, or a baby while the little girl played mom, I’m not entirely sure. However, it was clear that the game was full of pretend and completely lacking in rules and scripts.
Both of my boys had a very special time.
Penny ran around like she was a part of everything. She is going to totally grow up thinking that the world revolves around her despite the fact that she is the third in a family with loads and loads of noise and needs. She can’t help it; neither can we. Her joy is contagious, and everyone stops to look when she enters the room.
We are so blessed to have friends that get us. People who don’t mind spending the evening with a six-year-old “adult conversationalist” who loves the attention and giving his opinion on our conversations. People who don’t flinch when he doesn’t join in with the other kids. People who bring their kids here to play with Aiden—I don’t know when he has had such creative control over his own imagination in ages. Friends who share their own kids’ struggles with me so I feel less alone. It’s awesome.