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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Janey is Six

Janey turned six on Monday. It's been a nice week. Tony is on vacation, we are all relaxed and pretty happy, and Janey has overall been a joy. I don't want to credit the medication, but maybe I should a little. She just seems a lot more relaxed. It's also probably just her getting older, and us modifying ourselves. I think my thinking changed this summer at some point. It might have happened over a few day period when three different people I respect all said pretty much the same thing in different ways---it probably makes no sense to spend lots of time and energy trying to teach Janey a lot of academics right now. We've been trying for a long time, and she hasn't learned and all of us get upset and worked up. I'm not giving up on her learning, I'm giving up on it being on our timetable. I have faith she will learn a lot, when she wants to. Just like she will be toilet trained, when she wants to. It doesn't work that way with "regular" kids, but I have to accept it is the only way it really works with autistic kids. The big difference is that they are not trying to please you. Almost anything you teach other kids has an element of having them do what you want to please you---to make you proud they get an "A", or go pee-pee in the potty, or tell you their shapes, or what have you. Janey doesn't live to please anyone. So when she decides herself she is going to do something, she will do it. I'm not saying you can't control her behavior at all. But the way it is controlled is by making HER happy or upset by what she does. So when we get mad at her for spilling all her Nestle Quik powder on the floor or playing in the litter box, we are making HER feel unhappy, and that is what she remembers. It's harder to think of a way to make HER happy she knows a letter or a shape. I guess I could get mad at her for NOT knowing them, but that's cruel.

And in making that connection, and giving up some of my expectations, she seems so much happier. And we are enjoying her---especially sometimes in contrast to her teenage brothers. It's fun to have someone that can get extremely happy over a bowl of oatmeal, or a 100th viewing of a video, or a trip to McDonalds, or a hug. It's sweet she wants to snuggle me when she's tired, and hear the songs I've sung so many times. It's exciting hearing what she chooses to say---if we aren't trying to make her talk in a "normal" way, every word can be a surprise treat.

And the OCD, don't tempt fate part of me has to temper all of this. I don't know how school will be, when it starts. I don't know how much of her happier attitude is medication induced. I don't know if this is just one of those unexplained good stretches, to be followed by an unexplained bad stretch. But I hope we are getting to really know Janey, and that is helping.

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