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.
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.
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.
When Tristan was about 6 years old he would NEVER sit. He was always on the move. I had to chase my ever growing non-verbal “toddler” every waking moment. Most of the time I felt more like a security guard instead of a mom. Or maybe a life guard on land(not that one really exists). If something looked dangerous he would gravitate towards it. This went on for years…
Quarantine. Pandemic. Shelter in place. These words mean a lot to many of us. In Tristan’s world not so much. His routine has changed but many aspects of his life remain the same. He is not worried about much. His main concern is food. Overall he is content. But when he is bored…watch out! He will create his own entertainment. Here is one example.
This was one of the latest updates I received from his group home.
When I hand Tristan my phone and let him scroll through the photos he always stops on two pictures. One day he pointed to what he was looking at. I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. It was food! The chocolate milk in the first picture. The mac-n-cheese in the second picture.
Enjoy another healthy dose of laughter from our home!
Currently color sorting activities are a favorite for my forever toddler. I came across one to try with him. This is how it went…
I bought a foam block, sticks, and a box of fruit round cereal. The idea was to have him sort the colors on the sticks. First sorting, then eating the cereal. However, the moment I set out the example with one color on each stick he had a different idea. I turned my back for one second to get the box of cereal and the “sample” was gone. He was smiling and laughing. I asked him if he ate the cereal. The look in his eyes told me he did.
Then I poured some cereal in the bowl and I sorted a couple to demonstrate how this activity was suppose to proceed. He immediately started eating the cereal. The game began! He wanted me to say “don’t eat it!” Then he would laugh. He was definitely enjoying this game.
He was proud of his accomplishment! All the cereal was sorted and gone.
Enjoy another healthy dose of laughter from our home!
This idea came from Play to Learn Preschool. More details can be found at:
I love hearing my 16-year-old son, Tristan, talk about anything. Since he has autism, his expressive language has varied over the years. He has fluctuated between one word and two-word phrases. He has sprinkled in a few sentences over the years. Currently, he is non-verbal most of the time.