Throughout the year my oldest Aspie has been referring to his brothers as “The Nerds”. Being a child of the 80’s the flashbacks to the now 30-year-old (yes, I’m feeling old right now) cult classic “Revenge of the Nerds” doesn’t quite sum up my three unique boys. It does give me hope that my “nerds” will one day conquer the world. The “Nerds” and I had a great Christmas, and for me it wasn’t about the presents.
Christmas for me was a celebration of all of the things my three aspies had achieved this year. Archie, now 6, finally finished speech therapy. Archie’s speech therapy followed on directly from Bailey’s so after five years of weekly speech pathology visits, it was refreshing that one Monday afternoon, on the way home from school, we just drove on past speech, and went home. I didn’t quite shred the years of speech homework but I’m sure there’s a bonfire due soon enough! The end of an era, no more speech.
Casey found maturity this year. He learnt a very important brotherly survival skill, to walk away. He has become the peacemaker in the house and learnt to control his meltdowns. I was always told this day would come and now, at 10, he’s finally reached the point where he can monitor his emotions and when he knows everything is becoming too much, he just walks away. Removing wheat from his diet has made him so much calmer, and the daily stomach pains have disappeared. I’m sure holistically he’s feeling healthier and happier.
The biggest breakthrough this year for me though was with Bailey. What started as his toughest year yet, as ended on an absolute high. Bailey has embraced the Nerd. It took the first six months of the year to readjust his ADHD medications and now on Vyvanse, he’s calm and focused. But also this year, he’s unleashed an extraordinary super power. His mind. When we first took Bailey off wheat he became quite psychotic. He was in withdrawal. But over the next three months we saw a clarity, and a mind, that we had no idea existed.
Sentences that had been fractured and illogical became coherent, logical and intelligent thoughts. Physics questions about space, time, light and sound started forming in his mind. Always gifted in mathematics but now able to see the numbers clearly, Bailey accelerated to two years ahead in his schooling. It was like a light had been turned on and the pathways cleared, he now knew where he was going. This new direction also meant that I could now look for ways to help him and encourage him with his newly found Nerd.
It’s safe to say I was much more anxious than Bailey. Would he fit in? Would he stand out? Would I once again be “that parent” who gets all of the attention at the end of the day letting me know what had “happened” today? Yes, I was anxious. And I sat outside in the car for 30 minutes after drop off waiting for the phone call to come and get him because “something” had happened. But I didn’t get one. All day.
I arrived early to pick him up expecting to see him sitting outside a room with a supervisor, or somehow being different to all of the other children. But he wasn’t. After years of being asked to leave swimming lessons, being told not to come back to soccer training and feeling isolated from normal childhood hobbies, Bailey had found his “thing”.
My Christmas present his year was the smile on my son’s face after making a piano out of play doh, electrifying it with wires, and playing twinkle twinkle little star.
My Christmas present this year was my son making not one but two friends who were “just like him”. Unfortunately one of them took his hat off so he couldn’t remember which child he was, but that’s not the point.
My Christmas present this year was seeing my son light up with joy, bubble over with excitement and skip his way home having found a place where he belonged.
2015 will be a whole new year and I’m sure there will be challenges. I’ve shifted my perspective to expect difficult times and know that they will be coming. But if the challenges are the bread of life I also know that there will be cake. Gluten free of course. I couldn’t survive on cake every day; it would lose its flavour, its sweetness, and its joy. Life is about the challenges as they are what make the wins so sweet.
This year, my nerds have triumphed. There were no meltdowns this Christmas, and a whole new year to look forward to.
Merry Christmas Everyone, I hope you too can find the recipe to make your own cake in the New Year.