From fun to fear

It’s been awhile. Longer than I’d like but as we await the birth of our twins, my time has been all over the place. As matter of fact, if I were to be hanging from the last fiber of a rope to survive, I’d wouldn’t be that far off.

This is the story. I’m teaching a new grade, I’m learning an entire new culture of what will be successful and what won’t be. Regardless, it has been a lot of fun, time consuming, and extremely challenging.

Speaking of challenging, we learned something new over these last few weeks. It was hardly on our radar but is alarming to say the least.

The thing is that is has been very easy to focus on the success of everything Sawyer. He had a great summer of conquering his fear of going under the water. He attacked the diving board like it was brick wall by smashing through it. And he did so in a matter of weeks.

This has always been the case in any obstacle. Sawyer gets scared, he works through it, he conquers it, and he moves on.

Unfortunately in the world of Autism, it’s typically onto another topic to perseverate on. Our current fixation is music.

Two things that give Sawyer a lot of excitement is going out to eat and listening to music. He is well known for asking for a little Michael Jackson the moment we get into the car. Or he will be not opposed to a repeat rendition of a Pink tune.

This was a given. What wasn’t a given was his insisting of no music being played in the car anymore. That is if he can’t select the song. So for now, it’s either his play list or nothing.

To make matters more peculiar, he will only have his hands on his ears if he hears music at a restaurant. He will hardly eat and the once bopping of his head while singing is gone.

We watch his face tense up. We watch his food sit. All he does is ask who is singing? If it’s a boy or girl singing? And when can we go?

It’s almost like it happened overnight. What in the world happened? Do we bring headphones with us to dinner? Is it a sensory issue? Is it a loss of control?

I know this as every time you conquer something in Autism, you are onto something new. We were riding high on the summer success, basking in the fun in the sun. Now we are back at ground zero in another pocket of fear.

Bring on the next challenge.

Dear 2nd grade,

Dear 2nd grade,

We are only 4 days into the school year. However, you have been on my mind for many years. I looked up to you as Sawyer began preschool, traveled the halls of kindergarten, and progressed in 1st grade.

Ironically, it was you that scared me all along. I knew there would be a day that Sawyer would be with you. His spirit, his excitement, and his curiosity would enter your world.

So here we are. My fear is real. 2nd grade seems like where old kids reside. Knocking on being 8 years old scares me. Because the more I see Sawyer’s peers, the more I see the difference. He is not like them. And how long will his peers tolerate him being different?

Sawyer enjoys the monkey bars, pretending to hunt for treasures, and repeating tv show openings so he can hear the same theme song. This is where he is developmentally. Though he is 7.5 years old, he behaves more like that of a 5 year old in many ways.

It is charming, cute, and loving. It’s also should be noted that he is making phenomenal progress. His conversations, his reading, his math, and his writing have blossomed. This is exciting.

It’s also a cruel reminder of what is real. Sawyer’s peers are moving on. They are developing as they should.

What was once a collection of acceptance could expire soon. As friendships form, homework begins, and expectations accelerate, I worry.

And I worry. That is my problem. Not Sawyer’s, not his teachers, and not his peers.

So though I welcome 2nd grade into our lives, I do so cautiously. I just want Sawyer to continue his path while I learn to continue to embrace his differences.

Have a great year,