Tristan is valuing communication more and more each visit when he is home. It is incredible for us when he shares his thoughts. We know he is constantly thinking, and now it is nice to know EXACTLY what he is thinking. Tristan grabbed his communication device and started planning his family time:
Well, we can tell Tristan is feeling good! We are pleased that he is doing well. (It has been many months and doctor appointments to get to this level of success!) Some signs and behaviors seem to rise when he is happy.
First of all, he has no concept of the value of a roll of toilet paper during these supply chain issues! He unrolled one roll and tried flushing it down the toilet. When I went to tell Brian during my conversation, Tristan ran to the second bathroom. He tried unrolling and flushing a double roll. Immediately, I said, “No, Tristan, we are not doing that.” His reaction was to smile. He fully understands spoken words.
Next, he found an “important paper” in his bedroom. He ran to the kitchen grabbed a marker and scissors. Then he drew a house and quickly cut it out, and taped it on the patio door. He thought he had found an essential paper that he should not have had. It was actually a scrap piece of paper! The artist in him returned. Contentment has swept over him again.
Tristan started requesting songs for Brian to sing and play on the guitar. For his song request, Tristan would sign to communicate what he was wanting. Because we did not have his communication device for this home visit–it was a bit challenging. Finally, I was able to pick up on what he was saying. He wanted several of the songs from this OLD VHS tape we had called “Bible Action Songs.” It has probably has been at least 10 years since we have watched this old VHS tape. Thank goodness for YouTube!!! I was able to pull up the exact video that I use to play for the boys. It was a great way to refresh my memory on what songs were on this tape. It was a fun time with Tristan down memory lane. Brian and I were a little surprised that Tristan remembered these songs. I always say the autistic mind is beautiful. We may not often know what he is thinking, but it is a blessing when we do.
It is hard to believe how life unfolded for everyone during the pandemic. Everyone was affected. We traveled to Tristan’s group home to visit for one hour every other week. I shipped many toys to help with boredom. Then we played during our visits. I found this really cool toy with locks and keys. It was a matching ABC-type game. One day Tristan surprised us. He started putting the ABCs in order! No prompting, just on his own. Brian and I sat in amazement. Having a non-verbal child makes it difficult to understand what concepts he grasps. Apparently, he knows how to put the alphabet in order.
Every day is a new gift. Having a special needs child makes life slow down a bit, and enjoy the unique gifts that unfold before your eyes. This was one of those days. I then turned to Brian and said, “Maybe he does understand the other languages when he switches his pre-school videos to a different language.” But, of course, we will never know. Another question to ask him when we are in heaven.
Enjoy another view of the lighter side of autism from our family!
This product is found on lakeshorelearning.com called Alphabet Learning Locks.
For Father’s Day, Tristan gave his Dad a matching motorcycle shirt. Tristan enjoyed signing the motorcycle card and handing his Dad a gift. Riding on Dad’s motorcycle is a shared hobby. Tristan loves emulating his Dad in different ways; it is cute to watch. Tristan just loves being with his Dad doing anything. They have a special bond that is a delight to watch. Even when the moments are challenging, I am thankful that Brian has always been there for Tristan. To all the Dads raising special needs children, Happy Father’s Day!
On all our visits with Tristan since May, he has been trying to tell us something. It kind of sounds like “uncle.” In fact, the first weekend in May, we took him to a hotel for a shorter overnight visit. He would repeat this word over and over. We were not sure what the exact word was, so we did our best to distract him. It didn’t work out great, but what else could we do? Finally, I texted one of my brothers and asked if he would do a zoom call because Tristan keeps saying, “uncle.”
We enjoyed another successful communication weekend with Tristan. Only this time, he reached a new level in communication that we have never seen. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
He wanted to talk about his favorite things over and over and over, etc. So I took his tablet communication device and build a page with his favorite things. I made a schedule, so he knew “what was next.” He loved it so much he kept going back to it. Then he started verbalizing all these items. These are the preferred “conversations” with Tristan. Motorcycle ride. Mc Donald’s – and his entire usual order of chicken nuggets, French fries, BBQ sauce, chocolate milk. Church. Guitar. Cooking. Making Pizzas. YouTube. Movie Theatre – and his snack items which consist of popcorn, pop, and chips and cheese. If Tristan’s device was not right next to him, he would sign his thoughts. If we were not correct, he would repeat his word with a more clear annunciation. If we still didn’t understand, then he would find the button. This repetition went on for the complete 48-hour visit during waking hours.
At one point, Brian and I were trying to talk about something important. We finally had to tell Tristan to wait a minute; it is our turn to speak. Never in a million years would I have thought this would happen!
The other behavior we noticed is even though he wanted to talk about all these things, he didn’t necessarily want them right at this moment. He just wanted us to know he was thinking about them. So this was definitely an area of growth! I kind of forgot how much sign language he has absorbed over the years. I had to quickly jog my memory when he was signing. He remembered words we have not used in a while.
Enjoy the lighter side of autism and a reminder to never keep up on communication skills! You just may be surprised someday. (Here is a picture of him making pizza’s for lunch. He loves cooking activities.)
I can not believe it was at the airport on June 4th that Tristan was handed to us. In the adoption world, this is known as a “Gotcha Day!” So… June 4th is special family day for us. Many years ago…We were about to embark on a parenting journey that we could have never imagined. Interesting. Lively. Heart-wrenching. Abounding in miracles. Empathy. Compassion.
This year we took Tristan on a day trip to Sandy Acres Clydesdales for a VIP Farm Tour. It was a lot of fun. Tristan got to feed the goats and the miniature donkeys slices of carrots. Tristan played on the goats’ toys! There was a toddler-sized slide that he kept eyeing. I told him he was too big. He still inched his body toward it and stood at the step. I told the owner, “Tristan thinks he is a toddler.” She gave him permission to slide down. However, his legs extended to the bottom. We all laughed. Down the slide, he went. (Don’t tell him he can’t do something! He will find a way.) Tristan seemed to enjoy petting the Clydesdale horses. In the end, we went into the barn and brushed a horse. Tristan was content with this activity. It was great to have a private VIP tour—lots of good family memories.
Tristan’s first weekend home was outstanding. However, one behavior we noticed is that he stopped communicating. Tristan did not want to sign, talk, or use his device. Sometimes I think it is due to his medications that have switched several times over the last few years. My heart was sad that he lost his interest and ability to communicate. I decided we would work on it when he was home as much as possible. I used his tablet loaded with Proloquo2go to ask him choices.
Last Friday night, Tristan was home for the weekend. All of a sudden, he started signing. He asked for popcorn, chips and cheese, and pop. Brian and I quickly realized that was his usual order at the movie theater we take him to. It has been over a year since we did that activity! Tristan got excited and flapped his arms when we asked him if he wanted to go to the movies. He said, “Yes,” Tristan went on to sign and say, “church.” We asked him if he wanted to go to church. He said, “Yes,” and twirled around in a circle several times. He then went on to give his McDonald’s order with his device. The usual order: chicken nuggets, barbeque sauce, French fries, and chocolate milk. We were very excited that he came out of “his world” to communicate with us! We could see the excitement in his eyes as he was understood.
We had a busy Saturday going to McDonald’s to pick up lunch and ate at a park. Then we went to the movie theatre for his snack order and watched a movie. Sunday morning, we went to church and listened to the music.
When communication increases, then frustration decreases, and that made a successful home visit!