As the parent of child with autism, one of the things that I always struggle to keep in mind during the tough times is that things always change.
When my son’s problems seem to get worse by the day, it is hard to imagine that things will ever change for the better.
Yet, they always do.
Moving past the tough times
The past few weeks have been difficult.
The new medication we have been trying had made our son lethargic. And while the side effects were bad enough, they’re even tougher to accept when the drug appears to offer no benefits. My son had major incidents at school nearly every day, and his behavior issues spilled over into his soccer game and karate class. It all led up to
Recently, though, we’ve seen some positive signs. For instance, Kai has started to chat like his old self again.
Earlier this year, when he was obsessed with the periodic table, Kai was constantly asking us what our favorite elements were. Having to tell him our favorite element might not sound so bad, but imagine how we felt by the time he asked us what our 100th favorite element was.
These days, he is all into Pokémon. I am happy that he has taken an interest in something so typical. After all, it has to be easier to find a friend who has a common interest in Pokémon than trying to find another seven year old who loves elements. But now that he is repeatedly asking us to choose our favorite Pokémon, I have to remind myself how much I missed all of his energy when he was so quiet.
But what about his behaviors?
While it was nice to see Kai’s exuberant personality again, his behavior issues were still a concern.
I had trepidations when I took Kai to his karate class for the first time since he behaved so poorly there weeks ago.
As the class started, I was tense as I sat in the stands watching. He did all of the warm-up exercises nicely, but it was early. With Kai, you never know what might upset him and cause him to act out
As the group started doing karate, Kai looked very serious. When it was his turn to perform kata (karate movements) individually in front of the entire class, he did incredibly well. At the end of the class, he earned high praise from Sensei.
“Kai, that’s the best karate you’ve ever done.”
What about school?
Still, everything paled in comparison to his continued incidents at school. Our stress really wouldn’t decrease until he showed improvement there.
Kai’s therapeutic school sends home a “point sheet” every day that scores his behavior each period. He is evaluated on ten criteria that include things like respect for staff and accepting feedback. During each of the ten periods, he can earn one point for each of the ten criteria he does well. So, the highest possible score for a day is 100.
He has had precious few 90-point days lately. He often loses points for not staying on task or not following directions. When he has a major incident, his scores are much lower.
When he came home last Thursday, I greeted him and asked him how his day was. I always ask, though sometimes he doesn’t like to answer, especially when he’s had a bad day. This time, he didn’t answer, so I had to ask again. He gave me a quiet “good” but said no more.
My wife walked in a moment later and was much more excited.
“Kai, did you tell Dad?”
No, he didn’t tell me anything. What happened?
Kai finally spoke up.
“I got 100 today.”
What?! I had to see the point sheet for myself. Sure enough, there was a row of 10s, one for each period. He had done well all day. His total score was 100!
We have no idea why he had such a great day. It came completely out of the blue. I thought it might be a fluke.
But the next day, he earned a 98. Two great days in a row cannot be a fluke.
And to top it all off, he was named Student of the Week.
I don’t know why he is doing so well now after all these difficult weeks. Perhaps he is finally be adjusting to the medication he has been taking. So, is this the start of a new positive trend? Who knows?
But my son had a good week. I’ll take it.