Saturday, May 25, 2013

Autism Answer: "I have a low self-esteem and my elbow hurts."

One morning not too long ago, my youngest son got up at six AM, made himself some breakfast, got dressed, brushed his teeth, deodorized and combed his hair. Then he stepped outside to play with the dogs. That was when I knew he was struggling with going to school.

Declyn is not for sure autistic, but he struggles intensely with social transitions. He brings home report cards with all A's, he is popular with his peers as well as with his teachers. Everyone just loves him! But very often the stress of being that guy surrounds him like a fog and he just can't see his way out. School, of course, is the biggest challenge for him socially, but it is apparent in other areas as well. Halloween is hard. Each new doorway of social interaction exhausting him emotionally. Playlands and parties are also hit or miss.

Often before school Declyn will step outside and play with our dogs in order to wake up his social soul. I think this is a beautiful way for him to transition, and it almost always works. I adore watching him run around as I sip coffee and peek with pleasure out our wall sized window. What a vision: our wooded yard, overgrown nature and Declyn, laughing and feeling free! 

Every once in a while, however, this trick doesn't work and he comes in still feeling nervous and afraid of letting people down--letting himself down--at school.

This particular morning was one of those. After a week long holiday, hanging comfortably with family, it wasn't a huge surprise. 

Sometimes I make him go anyway, trusting him to learn from stepping out of his comfort zone. By the end of the day he's happy and comfortable. And sometimes, I let him stay home. Giving him an opportunity to feel in control of his own life, and letting him know that I understand his struggles are real. It's always a balancing act, and I get very nervous that I'll fall over, lose my balance and pull him with me! But all the lessons are important. He can handle it, and it is real, and he should have some control!

This day, when Declyn came in after playing with the dogs, he looked at me and said, "I just can't go to school today. I have low self-esteem and my elbow hurts."

Ya, so he stayed home. He sat behind me while I worked, reading his book. Comfortable and relaxed. 

His elbow healed rather quickly! And though his self-esteem will continue to ebb and flow, Declyn has an open communication and a respectful relationship with it. He is wonderfully willing to look at it honestly and give it the attention and direction it deserves!

Hugs, smiles and love!!!!!!

Declyn with his sister's dog. I don't have a pic of him with our dogs
because they are far too free and fast!