Thursday, June 16, 2011

One Down, Twelve to Go: Kindergarten Accomplished

Wow. One hundred and eighty days (give or take a snow day) have passed since Nolan started attending (mainstream) school. Thursday marks his last day of Kindergarten, a day that (quite honestly) we once worried we might never see.

We had questions last autumn before he started. Some were the concerns of any parent; others were unique to our son. We had concerns about field trips, waiting in line for lunch, meltdowns in class, riding the bus, academic comprehension, going to the bathroom (he still struggles with potty training), and making friends. And those are just a few.

Nevertheless, (while Nolan did have several days where we worried about his progress, and sometimes even his status at school) he made it!
o Some field trips that we knew would bore him he had to skip (going to a farm); bowling and swimming however, not a problem.
o There were mornings when we would get to school too early, he wouldn’t wait for the kitchen ladies to get breakfast into the chafing dishes; others days he would actually wait for a friend who was farther back in line.
o Meltdowns were unavoidable, but amazingly, the other kids worked right through it (and in public, many of them would admit aloud, “Mom, that’s my friend Nolan”).
o There were days Lori would have to pick him up from school because Nolan was simply not getting on that bus; another day, the bus simply forgot him.
o This is the boy who couldn’t speak in September; now he writes his name and whole sentences, and even reads!
o Somehow we/they worked through potty training (good luck next year, Angela and Mrs. Swift), and as for friends, if you were reading, you know we just covered that.

Take today for example. There was a Books and Beyond award ceremony at the school today. While everyone gathered in the room, Nolan waited. He waited while kids went to the podium to get their medals. And, when his name was called, Nolan went up to the teacher, dipped his head as she put the ribbon around his neck, and went right back to his seat. I had to work, but Lori saw every tear-squeezing second of it.

When Lori picked the kids up though, she stopped by work to get me first before making the routine trip home. By the time I got to the car, he was in Full Nuclear Meltdown.

But you know what? Even in public, I’m still okay with admitting aloud, “That’s my son, Nolan.”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Same Child, Different Day II: Doing what I do best

Stay with me for a minute...this really is going somewhere.

You are all wonderful. Your comments on the blog Same Child, Different Day have been thoughtful and inspiring. And your remarks regarding the booklet Same Child, Different Day have been nothing but encouraging. Follow that up with the fact that there is so much more to say, and so many more people who need to hear what needs to be said. Autism is not going away in the foreseeable future, and our loved ones are everywhere.

We have had discussions regarding potty training, I've written articles about autism in public, we've ventured into the world of politics, and I never even told you about the time 1) the school forgot to put Nolan on the bus and --- 2) he was almost "expelled" (he's a special needs kindergartner) for a day (or two). All the while, I've been reaching an audience who already lives it.

That's not bad, in and of itself. However, if ever we're going to bring awareness about that which is autism, it's the "other people" I/we need to reach.

So...I've been writing a book...again.

Tentatively titled Fishing for Nolan, it's both an expansion of the booklet Same Child, Different Day, and at the same time is it is a completely new work. For one thing, Fishing, which this time will be a full-length "memoir", looks at autism from a father's perspective. As the Product Description for Breaking Autism's Barriers (Bill Davis, Jessica Kingsley Pub, Feb, 2001) denotes, "Few books about autism have been written from a father's perspective." Fishing also takes on a different tone than Not My Boy (Rodney Peete, Hyperion, Mar, 2010). While Not My Boy looks at the issue through a cause-and-effect lens, Fishing takes a more anecdotal, open-minded approach.

While we, too, have our beliefs about Nolan's diagnosis, this book is geared more toward the general reader. I've pointed this book in the direction of public awareness.

So, there you have it. Over the next few months, I will be glued to this chair in an effort to bring our story to you (and in a more ambitious way, to the rest of the World). I appreciate your continued support ... because without all of you, this never would have been possible!

Thanks, Everyone.