Sunday, June 17, 2007

Woke up this morning: got yourself a camera

I thought it might be fun on Saturday to take a camera along with my oldest son and make a photographic social story of his day, then put it in an album for him to look over. I hope to get the album put together later this week and take it to him early next week when we have an event to attend in Alexandria.

I like my new camera in part because I can catch great photo opportunities before the moment disappears. My oldest son next to Tony and Carmela Soprano in the checkout line at Target struck me as hilarious, so I took a picture of it. Whatcha gonna do?

T. played in the backyard swimming pool over the weekend, and was obsessed with shopping carts and French fries. I began to wonder whether he was recreating his Alexandria visit routine (hotel swimming pool, parents drawing pictures, WalMart, McDonald's) ad infinitum. I will be a little concerned about that kind of mental rigidity if it continues. However, he was having sinus problems all weekend, and he clearly didn't feel well yesterday, so he may have just been in a default mode as far as deciding what he wanted to do. It was kinda like, "well, I have to do something, so I'll just do this." It also could be that we're seeing a bit of a relaxation now that a rather intense school year has come to an end and T. is on a more relaxed routine involving horseback riding, swimming, computer play, and more free play time. We're going to come up with some fun, alternative activities for T's next home visit to test his adaptability a little.

I found myself feeling very sad about T. most of the day Saturday, and during the ride back to Alexandria yesterday--pretty damn depressed, actually. He is aware that other kids his age engage in activities that he can't understand or figure out how to do. He spent a few minutes on Saturday watching kids select football helmets and baseball bats--I didn't observe any emotion, just something akin to a recognition that "I can't do that." Also, he is ever so so close to being able to draw, but just can't make himself put pencil to paper. That frustrates the hell out of me. T. has always been like that. He watches and waits until he suddenly leaps into whatever it is he wants to do. A few problems I see are 1) he doesn't understand language sufficiently to follow complex instructions; 2) he doesn't understand that most activities are broken down into discrete acts, each of which must be learned to participate fully in the larger activity; and 3) he doesn't have the patience to deal with no. 2 when he does recognize that issue. I see all three of these problems with the gazillion educationally oriented toys he has requested and we have bought. I know that the autism center at St. Mary's is working with all three of those issues, and with the same kind of toys. I can only hope to see something click.

One thing I was happy to see is T.'s growing ability to discriminate among local stores when requesting where to go. T's shorthand for "take me to the store" is "cart!" I could never tell whether he wanted Target or WalMart until I got to one or the other and he refused to get out of the car. Several weeks ago, I began calling WalMart "blue cart" and Target "red cart." T. picked up on that pretty quickly. Saturday, I added "green cart" for A&P Sav-A-Center, which has a different type of shopping cart that fascinates T. He picked up on that immediately. So now we have "blue cart!" "red cart!" and "green cart!" Also, he has started discriminating between McDonald's and Burger King as sources of French fries, pretty much by name ("Donalds," "Burgers"). I've tried for years to get T. to make choices and discriminate among alternatives, so I guess this is a pretty big deal.

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