Monday, December 19, 2016

Autism at the holidays

So poor Hayden has really been holding it together. He's had perfect days at school for over a week, which has not happened all year. Today (the second to last day of school) he had a party in the afternoon (change and chaos), then after school kids were cheating at a game at daycare (he HATES when kids cheat.) Yet he still kept it together. Joseph picked up the kids and took them to the library. Hayden couldn't find much that he liked (disappointment upsets him too). 

When he got home and I told him that he needed to do his homework (which he didn't understand) before screens (just like every day) he lost it. He threw Rylie's Lego advent calendar, which resulted in her crying (he HATES crying), which made him even more upset. Then he realized he shouldn't have done it, which made him feel guilty, and also afraid. He's been afraid that his behaviors will put him on the Naughty list and Santa won't come. Joe had to hold him for about half an hour because he was so upset. This doesn't happen often at home anymore. 

It's heartbreaking to me that my son would think he's on the Naughty list. No, he shouldn't be throwing or hitting or swearing. But these are a result of his disability, and his behaviors have improved so much in such a short time. For the most part, 97% of the time,  he is sweet, cuddly, kind, funny, and creative. He has come to a greater realization lately that his actions affect others. He offered a child without a coat at recess his hat (that's awesome Hayden but please don't do that again-- because lice!), offered his therapist his gloves when she was cold, and has been repeatedly saying "I'm sorry if that upset you" to me in case something he said was socially unacceptable. He has trouble focusing, and has to focus all day to get it all right. He really tries. He really, REALLY tries. To survive in a world that doesn't quite get him. And here's Santa / me telling him he'd better work harder or he won't earn any presents. Something every other kid doesn't really have to worry about. He lay in bed tonight and repeated what he has to me so many times in the last few weeks:  "I'm sure I'm on the Naughty list, mom. I'm not getting any Christmas."

I decided today that that's not fair. 

Our elf Tinsel leaves notes from time to time, so tonight she let Hayden know that it isn't about the mistakes. It's going to be about good deeds from now on. He can earn kindness by showing kindness to others. Hopefully this will be a life lesson for him, and his sister. God doesn't care if we mess up, as long as we tried. He forgives, and Santa will forgive. If we live each day with good intentions, and try to help people in our own ways, we have met the criteria for being on the Good list. 

Thank you, Hayden, for teaching me once again. I only wish for your sake I'd learned this one sooner. ❤️