i forget that when i move, i must unturn all those memories that have been stored in a box or in this house…. an old suitcase. i have 100’s of arek doodles that i’ve managed to sift thru for the last few days. i know i can’t keep them all…..i’ve decided to part with lots of them; save some for zoey to read and look at and keep the really important ones that remind me of the progress arek has made over the last few years. i’m not aware that i’ve shared this FYI before, but arek is 9 and was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at age 5. he has asperger’s……like so many young boys and girls these days. i have stopped trying to figure out why…..i have stopped trying to figure out what i did to make it so….it is what it is. i’ve moved beyond my self absorbed pity and focused more on arek. i’m not perfect. i have days i take pride in being pissed off at a boy that can’t stop humming or won’t look up when he walks. i have days when i want a magic pill to make arek play the ‘same’ way the other kids play, but it is his brain doing that….not mine and i’ve realized over time that i am more worried about what people think than i am about him. i admit it. it sucks to be different sometimes. i should know.
anyway….. i found some crazy arek doodles when he was 3 and 4. i sent him to a very good private church school at that age, although i am not particulary very religious and even had some bad experiences with a previous church school. his current school worked okay because they took pride in their pre=k teachers’ credentials. arek had a pre k teacher that understood his sensory needs. his needs for understanding his peers and coping, but with very little skill and experience to do so. she gave him the ability to write random alphabet letters over and over and over again in a corner alone, while his 4 year old peers would follow along with the regular lesson plans of the day. i wasn’t as lucky when arek was 3. he was in the same school, but had teachers that didn’t understand him at all. they thought he was naughty and had ADHD. i knew there was something more. i knew he had other issues, but could not convince anyone at the time. i was told to put him on medicine at the time, but refused. i knew his pre-pre k teachers weren’t doctors. i knew they were tired teachers that had a hard time following arek’s activity level and non compliance to conforming. arek sat in time out for extreme amounts of time over and over again everyday for compulsions and distractions he couldn’t help at all. it was a very confusing time. if any of you have a kid on the spectrum, you know what i mean.
arek knew how to write all the letters of the alpha. by the time he was 3. he also knew how to spell all the kids’ names in his class. he knew how to spell his colors and write most of his numbers forward and backward. he was zoey’s age and could manage to spell his name aloud. he has a total obsession with the alphabet. he would write names and random letters over and over again and spin in a circle while the kids would play. arek could read by three. it was crazy. he would attach his emotions to words, letters, numbers, textures, things, objects, and sounds more than people……he still does somewhat. he carried a string around that he waved in his face for 4 years. he made a humming noise for 4 years. he would make noises with his mouth that were so loud and annoying and strange, i would get the ugliest stares from strangers and my friends would get so tired of me screaming at him to stop. he didn’t stop until he was ready. last year.
i remember arek having a fascination with circles, curli cues and triangles. he drew circles and curli cues over and over and over for about a year. he still attaches himself to something he finds fascinating and does that thing over and over and nothing else. he drew roller coasters and built them on the computer for a solid year. he was completely obsessed with tornadoes and lightning. he loved CDs and drew all over them for the longest time. i gave him blank ones, old ones, broken ones to decorate. he could not walk in a straight line or look up, but he could read a book. it was strange. arek would fall down a lot and trip on stuff. he still lays on the floor at walmart sometimes when he gets overwhelmed and can’t focus, but it’s getting better. somedays he would just bend over and walk around like that all day….no matter how much i yelled at him. i had so many strangers tell me ‘how’ to fix it or to ‘spank’ him or ‘punish’ him, but what little of that i tried, failed. i did what worked the best for me and that was to just keep him really, really busy with lots of activity….motion, textures, sensory, and sound.
to make a long story short….i managed to snap some photos of arek’s love for writing letters and doodling. by the time arek was 4, he memorized ALL our songs on itunes. he knew the names, artists, genre’s and content of all the songs. he was infatuated with hip hop. i think it was all those beats that he memorized for their odd sounds and textures. i purchased quite a bit of hip hop for about a year. arek also loved all my alternative songs……aphex twin, 808 state, dj cam and moby are still some of his favorites. i feel scared letting a 9 year old be open to so much ‘adult’ music, but his song continuity isn’t equal to mine. he listens to the music and the sounds and not the words. i don’t allow the explicit stuff, because he is obsessed with knowing that something may be ‘bad or wrong’. he cares about stuff that most kids have no time for. it’s so odd.
on a positive note, i’ve seen so much growth and progress over that last year with arek. he is finally starting to understand personal boundaries better…..not well……but better. lots of that comes from the excellent teachers he’s had over the past few years. lots of help form each of them has paid off. he does not touch other kids as much. he listens better. he understands the rules and is more compliant and restrained in school and public. he isn’t as impulsive. what most kids learn by 6, he is learning at 9….but he is more advanced than a 6 year old so many ways, so it’s once again odd. i am proud of him. i get frustrated, but not as often. i have chosen to never medicate him. that is just a personal choice. i want to see progress that is NATURAL arek and not the medicated arek….and it has paid off….for both of us. his coping skills are getting stronger and his self control is getting better. his range of interests are getting bigger finally and he is opening up to people better. he is starting to understand empathy a little and he sees a picture a little bigger than one compulsive thought or activity. i have a hard time with this and i am 44. i know the frustration of trying to multi=task when something you love to do is so much more rewarding. it must be really tough for a 9 year old on the spectrum.
if any of you have a child on the spectrum, i hope this inspires you. if you have a young one on the spectrum, they will learn with lots of help and intervention. it will pay off. there is a light at the end of the spectrum…..
here are some doodles……..the first 2 are when arek was 3 years old
he did doodles like this for hours sometimes…seriously….and he would flap his hands and hum and rock while he doodled like this. it was hard sometimes to break his spell. i remember him taking all his toys and putting them in a pile and then throwing them hard against a wall and humming and making a shsseeesseee noise and just blinking his eyes over and over. he loved to shred paper….especially newspaper or paper towels. he would shred paper until the entire floor in his room was covered. then he would spin around and around in a circle on his bottom and kick the paper and make odd sounds and close his eyes. i would tried to redirect him to do something else, but it didn’t work. i would get angry, but that didn’t stop it either. now i realize he had intent.
these are some doodles when he was 4
then when he was 5……
and this is a current computer doodle. arek is still obsessed with making music and cds. by the time arek was 4, he managed to change all the titles of songs in itunes. ron and i tried to keep him from doing it, but he managed to get in there and change stuff anyway. at age 6, arek was taking ‘cheat’s off you tube and putting them in his marble blast gold game software to create his own levels…..what???????? go outside and play and learn to tie your shoes and brush your teeth. why is that so hard??? my mom says kids on the spectrum are so DISTRACTED by their own thoughts, it’s hard to stop and just do stuff they are supposed to do. i have the same problem with junk. i get it. are we equipped with a distraction faction?? do we each have the ability to get distracted by consuming thoughts that fire over and over again so much that it is hard to just stay on task? or do we learn to develop ways to stop and cope. i’m hoping that arek will learn those abilities, but still maintain some of his impulsiveness to the point that it helps get him a job or gives him a talent or skill. he needs boundaries, but he needs freedom too. we’ll see.
i have no clue what this is?
i have john elder robison on my blogroll. what a great site. john elder robison is the author of the book LOOK ME IN THE EYE. great book. good insite. there are so many resources and advancements for ASD kids these days. i feel lucky that i can get the help i need and arek needs and manage a positive outlook and attitude about a child that i used to feel so helpless about.
with that said, i took some photos of vintage dresses for my saturday salvage i got last week at lampassas. i get it sue….i do…i cut stuff off of dresses too. what the hay. if the dresses are ripped, too old or torn, i can manage to use the parts….like old cars.
talk about obsessions…..geeze…..i am on the junking addiction spectrum.
okay…..guess i better go groom myself. after a hot day in the sun with cub scout boys and a sleepy zoey, it’s time i scrubbed.
now onto a DADDY DOODLE. ron drew this doodle about 5 years ago. i found it in a suitcase last night and pulled it out and laughed out loud. i have often told ron that he would be a great folk artist. i mean that. i see a retirement career now. the whole family can doodle together.ron is on the preschool art talent spectrum….
i think this is me w/out my glasses. or a scary man pretending to be ron’s self portrait. i’m not sure. i love the pointy teeth. good for my cooking.
you all have a fabulous saturday and i’m going to go get back into the clean spectrum….