Since Nate’s nonverbal, I often feel an obligation to serve as his voice in certain social situations. When we’re in the store and people with germy hands want to touch him, I often respond to their comments to Nate with things that he might say. I never make the excuse that he’s shy or tired – if they push the issue, I’ll tell them that he’s autistic. Then they turn a shade of white and look like the earth should open up and swallow them right then and there in the Marshall’s.
At school, Nate’s friends are quite verbal and come in with all kinds of adventures to share. For instance, Nate’s sweet friend, Johnny, went on a train ride meant to mimic the Polar Express experience. He told the whole class about his trip, brought in The Polar Express book to read at circle time, and a mini-version of the train to chug around the room. And our pal, Eddie? Well, Santa brought him two goldfish for Christmas that were set smack dab next to his head so that when he woke up on Christmas morning he met his brand new pals. (In case you’re wondering, they’re named Dorothy and Goldie. Apparently, it’s not a reference to The Golden Girls but, rather, Dora the Explorer or something of the like….)
Nate’s got a lot of adventures to share but he can’t express his excitement about them. So I make certain to tell his buddies at school all of the fun things that we’ve got planned. The kids thought Nate was the coolest kid ever when they learned we were going home to celebrate our cat’s fourteenth birthday — with cake! And, after Christmas, I left a note for Nate’s teachers so they could share what Nate got from Santa (a basketball hoop!) when all of the other kids did, too.
So, here’s a recap of some of Nate’s adventures in December, which I’m sure he’d yammer about to no end if he could:
We decorated a gingerbread house! The activity was all well and good until Nate realized the decorations were edible. Those gummy bears didn’t stand a chance.
We bought some Insta-Snow! It’s actually something the kids played with at Nate’s school to celebrate the start of winter. It’s a fine powder that holds multiple times of its weight in water…sound familiar? Yup. It’s the stuff that’s in diapers. It puffs up and gets cold. Great sensory activity in a box!
Nate made more wishes than I can count on our Snow Village’s Wishing Well. He would pull either me or Chad over to the shelf, sign “up,” and was allowed to spin the windmill three times. Then he could ring the bell once on the church. Sometimes it’s the little things that make us the happiest.
We all got matching pajamas on Christmas Eve! That meant we looked super coordinated when the police showed up at our door at 4 in the morning because a rat (or a mole–we still don’t know….) set off our home alarm system. Nate’s pajamas match Chad’s. Mine are a bit more girly.
Nate made our Hallmark Snowmen sing! He loves these characters and figured out where their on/off buttons were. Nate tended to play at least two simultaniously. Then he would crawl up into his high chair to watch them do their thing. (Each one sings and dances.)
And then there was Christmas itself! Santa brought Nate a basketball hoop and a penguin toy. Mammy (Chad’s mom) and Super Grandpa (my dad) got Nate puzzles, big kid sized Legos, and Tinkertoys! The basketball hoop is the biggest hit; on Christmas night, Nate insisted on bringing his wee basketball to bed with him.
And Nate bought us some great presents, too! Nate really enjoyed the Floating Ball Pipe that he bought for his Dad!
Nate also discovered a new food that he loves: homemade cranberry sauce! (Don’t worry, that glass of wine is Chad’s…not Nate’s!) Nate’s terrified of sauces — but not this one! Who knew my boy likes tart and sweet things?!?
We are very excited for 2012 to arrive. There are many more adventures on the horizon, some exciting, some daunting. Chad is returning to school, getting his MBA from Yale in a program that allows him to keep his day job (exciting!). And, in January, we start the transition to the public school system (daunting). I fear there are many more acronyms on the horizon for me to learn. No matter what, I’m glad I’ve got my sweet boy and my wonderful family. Happy 2012 to you all!