I blog about my daughter with autism, about her life, about her art, about funny stuff she does, about good times and bad.
I thought I might start sharing some of my entries here, as an effort to raise autism awareness. Often diaries on this site about autism seem to center around vaccine issues, which is a shame, if you ask me.
This latest entry is about increased independence in my autistic "Tweener".
Visit her website to read more about Ellie, autism, or to see some of her artwork.
Our girl is growing up. She is not a baby anymore, she is not even a little girl anymore. April 10th will mark Ellie's 10th birthday, and with her advanced age comes an increased awareness of the world around her and a desire to explore this world.
There have been a few scary (brief and scary) moments where she's asked to go outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and we look away for a moment to gaze at the long awaited-for blue sky, and she's gone. I know she can't have gone far, she didn't have the time, but as I'm searching for her, calmly and with confidence at first, then more sweaty and panic-y, I realize the moments are ticking by and if I'm going in the wrong direction she could be going farther from me twice as fast. It is not a fun experience.
Part of it is a learning experience for all of us, as I explained to Nikos who was watching her one of these times and was very sad and worried that he had lost Ellie. We get to see what is interesting to her and where she might be on those times that we can't locate her temporarily.
The first time, I found her two doors down, at a neighbor's house that has a hammock swing in the front yard, and several full size hammocks hung out front as well. She was having a grand time swinging. I brought her home and scolded her gently. "Ellie, you need to stay in our yard. STAY IN OUR YARD. Ok?"
The next time, we found her in another neighbor's yard, this time in back. It was like she was doing a sweep of the area, searching for interesting and fun goodies she could play with. I delivered another lecture that I didn't really believe she would absorb.
This leads up to our conversation yesterday. This conversation took place upon her request to go outside.
I'm going to try to transcribe it.
Me: Ellie, if you are going outside, you have to stay in our yard. OUR YARD. Ok?
Ellie: **Looks bored**
Me: Ellie, are you going to stay in our yard?
Me: Good, Ellie! (Knowing she was just saying yes because it was an answer) Will you go into the neighbor's yard? Will you go to the hammocks?
Ellie: (Eye contact) YES
Me: No, Ellie, no go to the hammocks. You need to stay in our yard. OUR YARD. Ellie, will you go to the hammocks?
Ellie: (Looking at me as if to say, "Of course I'm going to the hammocks, you idiot! That's where it's fun!") YES. HAMMOCKS, YES.
Me: (Laughing, because I know how silly this conversation is) NO, ELLIE. No hammocks! Our yard! Stay in our yard! Ellie will you go to the hammocks?
Ellie (Speaking and looking at me to gage my reaction at the same time) Nnnnnn (she sees in my eyes I approve) nnnnooooooo! No! (Looks triumphant, like she has calculated pi)
Me: Yay! Yay, Ellie! No going to the hammocks! Ellie, will you stay in our yard?
Ellie: (Bored again) NO.
Me: Ellie! (At this she smiles; we're playing again) Stay in the yard! Will you stay in our yard?
Ellie: (More reaction gaging) Yyyyyyyyeee (she can see I approve) eeeessss! YES!
Me: Ellie, will you go to the hammocks?
Ellie: Nnnnnoooo. NO
Me: Ellie, will you stay in our yard?
End of conversation. Ellie goes outside to play, and I go outside with her, to monitor her movements closely, because I know she will not stay in our yard and she will go to the hammocks.
To all you therapists and ABA people out there who are reading this and pulling out your hair at my poor behavior modification techniques. I say, "poo-poo". I'm doing the best I can.