Nate finished his first full week of school, except it wasn’t quite a full week because he bamboozled me into thinking he was sick on Monday. Chad had a cold the week prior, and I started feeling crummy on Sunday. Nate woke up late on Monday (it’s our sleep-in day because it’s only a half-day of school with private PT/OT in the morning) and was inconsolable for a half-hour after Chad left, which was quite unusual. So I chalked it up to Nate maybe starting to not feel well, cancelled PT/OT, called him in as sick at school, and kept him home with me. Turns out the kid was fine and I was robbed of a nap. Rookie move….
As luck would have it, Pete is also sick. He has herpes (which he caught from his biological mother) and every time it flares up, he can’t stop sneezing, his eyes run, and his nose waters. I scheduled a vet appointment during Nate’s PT/OT session but, since I cancelled it, Nate tagged along. There’s not much more stressful in my life than lugging Nate and Pete to the vet – but I did it!!! I explained to Nate that Pete was going to the pediatrician to see his Dr. Syd and that Dr. Moore would give Pete an exam. When we were called into the examination room, everyone was fine. But when Pete’s exam started, Nate lost it. The boys parallel play with each other, at best, but apparently Nate is much more simpatico with his feline brother than I thought — because Nate made it very clear that he did not like Dr. Moore poking his pal. After Pete’s exam, Dr. Moore gave Nate’s pal Hippo, who tagged along for the ride, a freebie; I am pleased to share that Hippo is in perfect stuffed animal health! Pete’s on a regimine of eye drops and antibiotic pills.
On Sunday, Nate started a series of swimming lessons. Many YMCAs and JCCs offer one-on-one swimming lessons for children with special needs. Nate’s always been drawn to the water and it terrifies us that Nate might run off into water and be in danger faster than we can get to him. In fact, water is an attraction that’s common among the autism community: AWAARE (Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education) reports that, between 2009 and 2011, 91% of accidental deaths in the autism community were due to drowning. So this is skill is high on our list of things we want Nate to learn.
Nate’s recently been showing interest in swimming (pretending to paddle in the tub, scooting around in the ocean) so we felt it was the right time. There’s not much to the lesson: the instructor helps Nate get a feel for the water by moving him up and down a dedicated lane. I joined them in the water for Nate’s first lesson (with my cold, which didn’t help matters much). By the end, Nate made the motorboat sound in the water, trying to imitate the bubbles that we were blowing, and attempted to kick his legs (by natural instinct, not by instruction). When Nate kicks the water though, it’s out to the side (think of how a frog swims) instead of up and down and to the back. Though she doesn’t usually recommend it, Nate’s swim teacher said we should bring a “puddle jumper” with us for the next lesson, which would give Nate a bit more independence. (He kept wanting to swim on his own even though he sinks like a rock.) We have seven more half-hour sessions to go. I don’t think Nate will be a swimmer by the end of this program but at least we will have laid the groundwork for water safety.
A few weeks ago, we made our annual pilgrimage to church. We have decided that we’re unofficial members of the St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church because it’s the only religious institution that we visit on a regular basis. Why do we go? To eat Greek food at their annual Greek Food Festival. This year, Nate hit the regular food stands and enjoyed fresh pita bread with hummus and tzatziki, a really tasty cucumber and yogurt dip; spanikopita, a spinach and cheese pie in filo dough; the bechamel sauce from Chad’s moussaka, an eggplant and spiced meat pie; a baklava sundae; and some loukoumades, deep fried dough dipped in honey. Nate also played the strongman game and, with Chad’s help, got the marker up the ladder when he smacked that hammer down. His prize? A giant inflatable hammer that squeaks, of course! He also scored this Opa! shirt to show Greek pride. At the event, we ran into our pharmacist (who, as it turns out, is a real member of St. Barbara’s) and Ms. Susie. Nate had a bit of a hard time reconciling why Ms. Susie appeared at a night on the town with mom and dad but he still managed to eek out a wee “hi!”