Is there something going on at home?

Ugh. I hate this question. I honestly, truly do. Who wouldn’t? I called Maria’s school today to see how she was doing, and I swear it’s only the second time I’ve done it, only because she was crying as her dad was taking her down to the car. She’s been lining up her dolls and telling them to “shush” for a while now and because I know kids tend to imitate, I just wanted to know if maybe she’s imitating practices at the school. Maybe they have some kind of “naughty chair” practice for kiddos that are acting up. “Well, we don’t do that” the school’s director answered. Neither do I! If anything, Maria is boss at home! We hardly ever scold her, even when she’s drawing on the walls with her eraseable markers and crayons I just figure that comes with the territory. This is an autism home, mess is just a part of our lives whether you’re autistic or not. So after I hung up, and feeling like I was the one that got the scolding I figured I would go down to the school myself, I would go and demand either an apology or some freaking answers. So I did, and I’m glad, in a way. And to my surprise, I was met with an open heart, and some kind words.
As soon as I was escorted into her office, this lady who sounded so judgmental over the phone told me how much in awe she is of me for raising my son with autism and his typical sister, for doing so much for my boy and for having such a bright little kid like Maria. Yeah but what about the “Is there something going on at home?” question. I mean aside from living in a home with a brother who won’t speak or play with her, because of his autism, what else could be going on? I’m constantly playing with them, both of them, helping them, caring for them, doing my best to make up for the time I spend away from them due to work, why did this question make me feel like such a failure? And most importantly, why is Maria constantly scolding her dolls? Maybe she’s just taking out her ‘stress’ from us not scolding Panayioti when he sometimes hits her? Or, maybe it’s just part of her bossy character, because she is kind of bossy to be honest. The other day I was singing while she was sitting at her table and drawing on her drawing pad for once and she looked up and said “Mama, shush” all with a very serious expression on her face. Ok, she doesn’t like it when I sing sometimes, oh well. Also, she won’t let me do stuff for her like put her milk in her bottle. Nope, she wants to be the one to open the fridge, take her milk out, and pour (with just a tiny bit of help from me at this point) the milk into her bottle. “No, me!” she yells if I try to do it. So yeah, she’s bossy alright. But, in a good way. The only thing is, she’s bossy with Panayioti too but I think that’s mainly our fault. When he’s giving out little shrieks, and running from one end of the house to the other, I’ll say something like “Maria, tell your brother we don’t do that”, or “Maria, bring your brother to the table so we can eat”, or “Maria, help your brother take his jacket off”, and the constant “Maria, hold on to your brother’s hand tight so he won’t run away” when we’re out and so on and so on. Come to think of it, it’s all our fault. Maria thinks she’s the older of the two because we’ve been making her “take care” of her big bro and now she’s just so used to it she’s doing it without us asking her to. Poor baby . . .
I felt really down leaving Maria’s school and when I got to work I was literally counting the minutes till I got home. I wanted to be with my babies, to hold them and squeeze them in my arms. All I could think of while at work is that Maria is growing up with a non-verbal brother and how unfair it is for her. But she’s growing up with so many people that love her to bits, including her non-verbal bro.

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It’s the little things that count.

Lots and lots of little things that my little man has been doing lately has me smiling to myself, and happy, and dare I say, hopeful. Hopeful that I may hear that little voice that I know is in there somewhere, just begging to come out and join his loud and somewhat obnoxious family. But I’m also a strong believer that actions do speak louder than words, way louder. So I’m going to give you some examples:
At breakfast the other day I poured P his bowl of Cocoa Pops and was prepared to sit down next to him and spoon feed him of course but he surprised me by grabbing the spoon out of my hand and eating by himself! Ok I thought this is good. Really good. Then he did something else that pleasantly surprised me though too. You know how cereal sticks to the side of the bowl and you have to push it back down to the milk? Well, that’s exactly what P did too. And he didn’t seem frustrated either. He didn’t demand my help and he just kept on eating, very non-chalantly, very 5 year oldish. I know, I know, this may seem little, maybe even trivial, right? But I don’t care because to me, it’s huge. And it makes me happy even just thinking of this image.
Then, it’s been the way he’s been ‘communicating’ too. With me, his little sis, and his dad. Acting like a typical big brother, sometimes he’ll push her when she’s in his way, other times look into her eyes and hug her and play with her ponytails and then all of a sudden get this Denis the Menace look in his face and pull one of her ponytails and run off laughing! Kosta and I always crack up when he does something like this to his sister. Poor Maria!! The thing is, he’s not indifferent, he’s not a brick wall, and I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting through to him. Not 100% of the time, but really, really close.
He’s looking into my eyes more, he’s communicating with me more, he’s just more here with us. Last week he brought this huge tupperware that I have for when I bake cakes all the way from the kitchen to me while I was sitting in the living room. I know it must’ve been heavy for him, but he had this huge smile plastered on his face while he was bringing it over. My boy wanted cake. And even the other day while he was eating slices of apple that I had cut up for him, and sometimes that makes him laugh and he would be laughing and pieces would be falling from his mouth on the floor and I of course scolded him (both dangerous ’cause he may choke, and messy) you know what he did? He immediately stopped, hung his head and pouted his lips and was nearly close to tears! My boy actually showed emotion!! I was both sad for him looking like that but so happy at the same time!! Actions speaking louder than words definitely at work in this autism home.