Saturday, February 5, 2011

Progress Is a Drop In The Bucket

As all parents of autistic kids know, progress with our kids can be glacially slow.  It's there, but it's like watching water drip into a bath tub.  If you constantly stare at the tub, it's nearly impossible to see it accumulate.  Coincidentally, watching water drip into a bath tub is one of Audrey's favorite hobbies.  But that's another story entirely.

It can take me literally years before I realize that things are different than they used to be.  When Audrey was a toddler, I took her out in public plenty, but there were certain places that I would never go with her.  I would take her to Target or the grocery store, but not if I had any actual shopping to do.  At Target, I'd let her play in the toy department and stim on the toys.  At the grocery store, she liked the florist area and feeling up the produce.

She would never sit in the cart calmly and let me get any shopping done.  I always waited for the weekend when I could leave her at home with my husband and do my shopping in peace.  Ironically, parents of typical toddlers have somehow not figured out this system because there is never a time when I am in Target and do not have to step over a tantruming child.  Who I give a little kick to as I step over.  Oops.

A few weeks ago, I had a friend visiting from out of town and we were unable to work out a time to meet for lunch when Audrey was in school.  My friend (hi Carol!) said that she wanted to see Audrey and asked why we couldn't do it on a Saturday and have her along.  Why?  Uhhhh.  Because I'd like to enjoy my lunch?  Because I want to get away from her?  Oh, alright.

I packed the Leapster and made sure my iPhone was fully charged and brought her along.  And you know what?  She was great.  We ended up having a 2 1/2 hour lunch, and she only played with the Leapster for a small part of that time.  I think she's actually getting bored of the Leapster, which is yet another miracle in and of itself.

You know those kiddie place mats and crayons that they give you at restaurants?  She used to never even look at them.  She would actually get annoyed and shove them aside, letting me know that she was not to be diverted from making me lose my will to live.  Now she even knows how to do those word search puzzles on them.  Who taught her that?  Yeah, not me.

Towards the end of the lunch, another family came into the seating area where we sat.  One of the kids was a teenager with Downs, and he was wearing some kind of an Olympic style medal around his neck.  Audrey pointed at him and loudly proclaimed "He's got a medal!  He has to go!"  Apparently, there wasn't room enough in that restaurant for two special needs champions.


  1. Go Audrey! but that WAS brave. We don't take Kyran out to eat unless it's McDonald's where the fries are with us the moment we sit down. Scared to try sit down places. But I get you. for example, our daughter is in HS and we like to go to games. Kyran likes to watch basketball and is fine once he is squished in tightly between us in the stands. But walking in and until we get to the stands? the huge 5-7 yo would like to be carried please. And now after a million games or 20 in the past 3 years, he will actually walk in without freaking out.

  2. Restaurants used to be brutal for us too until Griffin finally acknowledged his destiny as my son. His love of food and overeating make him one of the best behaved kids in any restaurant setting. As for other places like Target, I don't believe children belong at places like that. Target is a gun range, right?

    Btw, your little fantasy about having a friend was hilarious. Carol! Hee hee. That's precious.

  3. Progress here is so slow. Moe is definitely different today than he was a year ago. Sometimes it's progress (better receptive language) but in other ways he's just different (more meltdowns).

    I'm always hesitant to take Moe places but he's generally really good in public, likes the stimulation of lights, sounds, etc. After any successful outing, I'm always elated, like we can do normal things too!

    So glad you had a nice lunch and that Audrey is making real progress.

  4. I always end up taking the kids grocery shopping, b/c it isn't any more peaceful if I leave them at home. I get 27 calls asking me when I am going to be home, why is it taking me so long, and then when I get home Kai has morphed into some sort of demon, the kids are crying, and the dog is destroying something expensive. So not worth it.

    Audrey did do super awesome. Katie still spends a lot of her time lying on the seat or under the table at a restaurant. Although I guess that is a plus as she wouldn't be able to pick out the *other* special needs kid from across the room.

  5. Kudos to Audrey on an awesome outing!

    Isn't it funny? Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind me how far Big T has come in the past couple of years. When that outsider points it out, i susaloy feel like a total tool for not realizing how much he has improved, but I guess it's tunnel vision, right?

    Either that or i am a critical, unable to be pleased, cranky bitch. And i know that's not right. That would make me my mother. :)

  6. I needed to hear this because we are having a horrific time with Mason and school right now. I'll just keep chanting, "drops in a bucket, drops in a bucket..."

  7. I have never stopped taking Brian out to eat...I am in the camp if you don't like it, go eat elsewhere lol- it's lucky that we live in a small town though and know the owners of several of the restaurants we go even keeps a small train behind the bar that he always brings down and gives to Brian when he sees us walk through the doors :)

  8. I try to look at things compared to where we were a year ago. Kindergarten compared to first grade. We're doing better, but yes, the progress was slow and not always easily discernible.

    I don't do restaurants with Ryan. My friends (aka rusty nails) just do not get that. Oh wait, they're your friends, not mine.

  9. That's awesome that you can go out to a long lunch with your friend and Audrey behaves! Awesome!

    This is an area my daughter has always excelled in--even when it wasn't "typical." When she was 2, I could take her out to lunches with my friends. She loved hearing our conversations! We were huge entertainment for her. It's strange, but this was one area where her autism actually made her easier than even a typical kid. She would find even going to the grocery store interesting and never complained. Except for when it was time to leave Trader Joe's. That would bring on huge tantrums.

  10. Glad you enjoyed your lunch with the girls. :) I completely understand the reluctance to take Audrey out but glad it went so well. It's also great to hear you had a supportive spouse to watch her while you run errands.

  11. BTW, I have something for you at my site!

  12. We can't do the eating out thing yet, but my husband takes our dude grocery shopping all the time (I'm not strong enough to manhandle him if I need to). It's so great when when you realise how much yout kid has come on tho, isn't it? XXX

  13. I look forward to the day we can take our son to a restaurant that doesn't have balloons...thanks for giving me hope!

  14. Lynn, that was you who kicked my son at Target?!

    Sounds like a nice lunch out! I love the medal declaration!

  15. Go Audrey! Go Audrey! That's awesome!

    Lynn I know exactly what you mean. I was just remembering how far Julia has come in just a few years. It's so wonderful. Congrats!

  16. Way to go Audrey! She is beyond awesome, and I love how she staked her claim as the resident award winning kid with special needs and tried to kick out the medal winner. It does sometimes seem like progress for a child is so slow, until something happens to reveal just how far they have come! And its nice to know that I am not the only one who "accidentally" runs into the kid who decides to fling himself/herself down in front of me at Target and have a tantrum. :)

  17. God I love your kid!!! Shoots from the hip! Love it! She won't settle for second best!

  18. @Kerry: See? Just cuz it's slow doesn't mean it's not progress!

    @BigDaddy: My imaginary friends are so much nicer than my supposed *real ones*

    @JennieB: You are lucky on that score. When Audrey was Moe's age she would get set off by sounds, etc.

    @Jen: That sounds like a blog post. Unless your husband reads. Then maybe not.

    @Kelly: That cannot be right.

    @Amy: It's drops in a sometimes someone comes along and kicks it over and we have to start all over again. Wait. Now I'm depressed.

    @Grace: Carol is either an imaginary friend or a rusty nail. Or both.

    @CherylD: No one like to leave TJ's.

    @Autism Mom: Meh. I usually had to schedule the trips out during her naps.

    @Jean: Well grocery shopping is definitely more mission critical than going out to eat, so if I had to choose one that would be it.

    @connorchronicles: You will get there!

    @Mindi: Your cuties would never tantrum in Target! But if they did, then maybe...

    @Laura: Thanks!

    @Bethany: The vision of you mowing down kids in Target is immensely satisfying :)

    @ryoko: She's got a mouth that for sure...wonder where she got that?

    @Heather: Nice service!

  19. Audrey is better behaved in a restaurant than a 15 yr old I know... xoxo

  20. I see those moments of progress when I finally give in to something we stopped doing a long time ago because it was never fun for me. I agree. The difference can surprise you.

  21. That's awesome you got to go to lunch and enjoy yourself. We've found certain restaurants are OK. Like Texas Roadhouse. My kids actually like the loud country music. Bonus: they don't have to be quiet because it's so loud in there.

  22. Lynn you make me smile and tear up at the same time
    LOVED this post

  23. Great post. I love the kind of progress that allows us to enjoy adult activities. Benjamin is pretty much great in restaurants these days, too (except for when he demands to eat the contents of the salt shaker and we say no). Most of the time he's fine, though, and it's made our life infinitely easier.

  24. During my years as a single mom, I had to take The Boy in public, even though he would embarrass me often.

    The worst thing he did (after I got married, BTW), he told a woman that he "couldn't believe God would make someone as ugly and fat as you".

    Good thing I love this kid with every fiber of my being.

  25. Love that you were able to have a long lunch! That's great. Love that she said the other kid had to go!

  26. I find this all the time with my son who is almost 9 years old. I am not one for stress and used to avoid any situation which would lead to him losing it but now we can go to many more places and he is a pleasure to be with and so well behaved. It is as if he has now 'learned' the rules of behaviour and will stick to them no matter what! He also likes the activity packs and will actually work his way through them methodically unlike his older NT brothers who 'get bored'! The only slight problem is that he is an incredibly fussy eater so we all ahve to go somewhere he can eat hotdogs or burgers.