Monday, November 8, 2010

Triumphs Follow Trials

Back when I started this blog and dedicated it to reporting on all aspects of our lives: the kids, Zack's autism, our trials and tribulations with such, writing, life and everything else, I realized that I'd need to strike a tenuous balance between giving you the full, unadulterated truth, using it as a way to vent my frustrations and fears, but also balancing all that dark stuff with something positive and uplifting and, well, readable.  

So, some good news to report, a little about triumph instead of trials.  As some of you may know if you've been reading, we hit a rough spot with Zack's sleeping patterns through the month of September/October.  It was frightening,  because on of the aspects of autism is VERY erratic sleep patterns. I've said it before and will say it again:  that's one of my greatest fears with Zack's autism, that his sleep patterns would get shot to hell...and then WE'D get shot to hell.

Well, during the past month or so, that happened.  Some nights, he got up every hour. Sometimes every thirty minutes.  We found ourselves putting him back to bed THIRTEEN consecutive times before he finally passed out for an hour. A few nights, I just looked at the clock - which read 1 AM - said "Screw it" and got up to write for two hours. I was awake. Might as well get something done...

Anyway, we scheduled a round of doctors appointments and meetings with his teachers.  We met with his teachers this past Friday.  With everything going on, we were really worried about his progress in school...and let's not even unpack those worries, for now.

Anyway - as it turned out - the week of our meeting his sleep started to settle down. Finally.  At the meeting, we learned that he'd been having different teachers almost every day, which very likely had caused his sleeping problems.  For any three year old, big changes can be troublesome. 

For a three year old autistic boy, big changes or inconsistencies are CATACLYSMIC.   Throw in Zack's off-schedule at school, and Abby's new weekend night schedule, and we have part of an answer.  Again - even in the answer is the implication that our lives are still not normal, that this would throw him off so bad he couldn't sleep for a month - but answers are answers, all the same.

Anyway, turns out his performance in school has been nothing short of fantastic.  He's very social and friends - a BIG hurdle with autism - and basically, his speech therapist can barely keep up with him. He meets his goals within days, forcing them to keep making new ones.  

Keep in mind his "awesome pace" is still couched within his diagnosis.  He's still effectively a year behind.  However, we saw the best evidence of his (and Madi's) growth at The Magic Paintbrush this weekend. More on them later, but basically it's a free resources for parents with disabled children.  

Essentially, it involves playing with paint and making a huge, fun mess.  The past several times, Zack just didn't know how to do it.  Part of autism involves not knowing "how to play", how to follow instructions or be part of something.  All the other times, Zack had to be "forced" to play, or else he'd just run around the room. Also, Madi's sensory issues have always made her very averse to getting dirty...a weird thing for a five year old.

Well, as you can see....getting dirty and playing is no longer a problem.  This weekend's trip to the Magic Paintbrush was the best possible indication for us that - even though challenges still lie ahead - things with both Madison and Zackary are rocketing skyward, and for that we feel tremendously blessed.